The association of European waste management trade bodies has put forward a strategy to drive the transition towards a circular economy in Europe.
The European Federation of Waste Management Environmental Services (FEAD), which includes the UK’s Environmental Services Association, said the plan reflected the “vital role” of the private waste management sector in Europe.
“The strategy sets out our vision of how the resource management industry can play its part in achieving a more sustainable and prosperous European economy,” said new FEAD president David Palmer-Jones.
The programme includes measures that the federation aims to take up to 2020.
First, FEAD intends to focus on strengthening recyclability in product design and manufacture. Members pledged to intensify their cooperation with designers and manufacturers to ensure products can be more easily reused, dismantled and recycled.
They also called on the European Commission to adopt eco-design initiatives, including setting recyclability requirements for some products.
Another area of joint action identified by FEAD is stimulating the market for recovered materials. It wants more stringent rules on public procurement, which would promote the buying of products with higher recycled content, and possibly lower VAT rates for such goods.
FEAD also urged European governments to ensure fair competition between the private and public sector providers of waste management services.
“Safeguards must be put in place so that municipalities which have exclusive rights over household waste do not use their position to cross-subsidise their operations in respect of commercial waste,” it said.
Other points raised in the strategy are improved waste data and greater efforts to tackle waste crime.
FEAD said that it welcomed the European Commission’s recent policy package on the circular economy, which proposed higher recycling targets and a progressive reduction of landfill.
“Our industry wants to work with the Commission, the European Parliament, and the other European institutions to make those proposals as practical and effective as we can,” said Palmer-Jones. “We can provide the secondary raw materials that Europe’s industries need, as well as help to provide energy for Europe’s homes, transport and businesses.”
David Palmer-Jones, FEAD president:
“If circular thinking has taught us one thing, it is that we have to engage with all stakeholders within established supply chains, working collaboratively towards shared goals: firstly to avoid waste, and secondly to ensure that the maximum value can be recovered from unavoidable waste and returned to the productive economic sphere.
The same principle holds for policy-making. European policy impacting on our sector has focused overwhelmingly on end-of-pipe fixes. While these clearly have a place in the policy toolbox, circularity means that we have to balance these so-called ‘push’ policies with ‘pull’ policies designed to build and sustain viable markets for secondary outputs.”
Extract from his speech