Page 55 - European Energy Innovation - Spring 2017 publication
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Spring 2017 European Energy Innovation  55

                                              MUNICIPAL WASTE MANAGEMENT

legislation requires the separation of        is unnecessary. To be clear, there         local economies with the savings and
different products and materials at the       will always be residual waste; left        through the new jobs created.
moment that they become a waste,              over after separate collection and
even more so in the revision currently        recycling and it makes economic as         The principle of proximity for waste
in progress, so as to preserve their          well as environmental sense to use         management as given in the European
intrinsic value and facilitate their further  that residual waste as a fuel in those     waste directives should also apply to
use in the economic cycle. European           Member States which have the systems       the sale of the materials recovered
municipalities have the responsibility to     and the need for heat to make best use     for recycling. This is what will boost
create the system to make sure that this      of this resource.                          the creation of a circular economy in
happens.                                                                                 Europe by delivering quality materials
                                              It is neither wise to ignore that need:    to European industry. This is not to say
To make it more visible, we are talking       the existing waste to energy plants,       that these materials cannot or should
here of packaging waste which                 district heating systems, their near to    not be traded on the global market, but
contains plastics, paper, metals, glass;      full energy recovery, nor to weaken        if Europe is serious about growing its
of biowaste which can be transformed          the efficiency of waste management in      economy sustainably, it should focus
into compost for use in agriculture and       Europe by encouraging investments          on reusing what has already been
biogas for use in vehicles, for heating       into more mixed waste treatment in         extracted and paid for before buying
or to generate electricity; of mobile         countries which are not yet recycling      new primary materials. This is a closed-
phones, fridges, washing machines,            enough to meet the legislative targets     loop or ‘circular’ economy.
computers, furniture, bicycles which can      that they agreed to. And this should
be repaired and re-sold and of the heat       not apply to municipal waste alone         Economic efficiency through resource
and electricity that can be generated         which makes up 10% or less of waste        efficiency is also not something to be
from non-reusable or non-recyclable           generated. If Europe is serious about      restricted to one region of the globe or
waste. All of this is already happening       re-circulating resources and creating      to developed countries. Europe is not
but it needs to become widespread, so         economies of scale to make these           the only continent that still exports its
that all municipalities in the European       efforts sustainable then the 75%           ‘unsustainable’ production; suffering
Union are doing this and more, and so         commercial and industrial waste needs      itself economically as a consequence.
that we can assist developing nations         to play the game as well.                  Municipalities are the ones faced with
to follow our good rather than only our                                                  finding jobs for citizens suddenly
bad consumption patterns.                     It is clear that this is a complex system  finding themselves unemployed due
                                              and to succeed, all parties need to        to the failure of an industry. The future
The best way to encourage such                work together to manage their part         is linking up all strategies whether they
best practice is to demonstrate how           of the chain. Municipalities may be        are economic, waste, resources, water,
it works economically as well as              at the forefront of municipal waste        soil or climate as they are not separate.
environmentally. Several examples             management which includes household        They are intricately interwoven and
of this type already exist, where the         waste and waste similar to household       interdependent and understanding
costs of waste management have                waste from commerce and industry,          their synergies will ensure that we are
been significantly reduced by moving          but the producers of packaging, waste      able to address the root causes of
away from collecting mixed waste and          electrical and electronic equipment,       global warming before it gets out of
replacing it with separate collection of      batteries, vehicles and other products     hand. l
different waste materials and products        have a responsibility to ensure that
at source, which are then sold to the         their products are taken back from the       Contact details:
market. EU members still in need of           market once they have entered the
developing their waste management             waste stream for reuse or recycling.         Municipal Waste Europe
systems are still being told that             European legislation is currently being      Renewable Energy House
separate collection is more expensive         revised to promote more recovery and         Rue d’Arlon 63
than mixed waste management but               less ‘loss’ from the European waste          B-1040 Brussels
they are not being told the full story.       stream. At Municipal Waste Europe it         Tel: +32 2 400 10 94
These Member States are still collecting      is our job to make sure that European        Web:
waste every day: this is the key cost         municipalities are fully supported in
in a waste management system and              this task and that in turn we support our
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