Page 54 - European Energy Innovation - Spring 2017 publication
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54  Spring 2017 European Energy Innovation


Circular Economy
Finding the Right Balance

By Vanya Veras, Secretary General, Municipal Waste Europe

                                                           It is common knowledge that
                                                                 the world’s developed countries
                                                                 consume the greatest quantity
                                                                 of materials, fuels and products,
                                                           also contributing the most to global
                                                           warming; Europe is one such group of
                                                           countries. What is less known is that we,
                                                           in the European Union, import three
                                                           times more products than we export
                                                           and that that represents six times
                                                           more raw materials than we export.
                                                           Where does it all go? Either directly or
                                                           indirectly, into our waste.

                                                           Creating a circular economy is all
                                                           about averting the exit of materials
                                                           and products from the production and
                                                           use cycle by creating systems to either
                                                           prevent them from entering the waste
                                                           stream through direct reuse or by
                                                           recovering them from the waste stream.
                                                           The developed West has learned to
                                                           be a throw-away society in the last 25
                                                           years and citizens young and old still
                                                           believe that their individual efforts as
                                                           consumers and recyclers don’t have
                                                           an impact. To turn back to respect for
                                                           value, longevity and resource efficiency
                                                           we need reliable waste management
                                                           systems and communication. The
                                                           citizen must be recognised as being
                                                           an integral part of this transformation;
                                                           included and informed.

                                                           Municipalities play a pivotal role in
                                                           all of this. They are responsible for
                                                           providing services of general interest
                                                           and as such, are the link between
                                                           the citizen and consumer, change
                                                           in purchasing behaviour and the
                                                           recovery system for products and
                                                           materials that become waste. European

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