EUROPE NEEDS TO TURN WASTE INTO WEALTH
Today, the European Parliament has debated on and adopted a number of proposals to establish a more sustainable waste policy. MEP Mark Demesmaeker, who was the ECR shadow rapporteur on these proposals, is pleased with the results of the vote: “Finally, it looks like Europe is dispensing with a linear consumption model in order to embrace a sustainable circular model. In view of the EU’s dependence on the import of raw materials, the rapid depletion of a significant amount of those natural resources in the short-term and the fact that we continue to waste a significant part of those valuable resources, a business-as-usual scenario is clearly not an option. The share of waste to be recycled would rise to 70% by 2030, from 44% today, the share of landfilling, which has a big environmental impact, would be limited to 5% and food waste needs to be reduced with 50% by 2030.”
Mr. Demesmaeker considers the transition towards a circular economy as an economic necessity: “It is essential for the EU’s long-term competitiveness and offers important opportunities for local job creation. The circular economy model reworks waste into secondary raw materials and makes Europe less dependent on third countries for its supply of resources . Today, every European citizen produces on average 5 tonnes of waste per year, the weight of an African elephant, of which we recycle only one third. Valuable resources are wasted, which is unacceptable. Increasing our recycling performance is a necessary first step.”
But optimising the European recycling rates alone will not be enough to make our economy circular. Mr. Demesmaeker notes that: “Waste management should be transformed into sustainable material management, which can take the circular economy fast forward. It is time for a major paradigm shift: many of us still consider waste as something to get rid of. We genuinely need to consider waste as a valuable resource. Trash is cash. Europe needs to turn waste into wealth. And we need to tackle the more fundamental problem upfront by reducing the generation of waste in the first place.”
Mr. Demesmaeker wants Europe to decouple waste generation from economic growth. “This ongoing revision of the waste legislation is an enormous opportunity. In my amendments, I called for incentivising smart and innovative business models, based on resource efficiency and life-cycle assessments. We also need to develop new production models, where rethinking product design is essential. We should equally enhance new consumption models which take into account an efficient use of resources and where consumers incrementally evolve to service users.”
These four reports will represent the Parliament’s negotiating position during the negotiations with the Council of Ministers.
Contact Yannick Vanderveeren
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