European Resource Hierarchy Could “Supersede” Waste Hierarchy

A discussion was submitted to Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries yesterday (21 April), which introduces the idea of a new European Resource Hierarchy, which may supersede the EU-waste hierarchy. 

The discussion paper introduces the new idea for a European Resource Hierarchy.

The proposal is intended to initiate discussion and stimulate lively debate on the role for a European Resource Hierarchy, both in delivering a circular economy and sustainable resource management.

As such, its use could potentially underpin a fundamental shift in European policy thinking, according to Dr Stuart McLanaghan, who spearheaded the initiative.

Dr McLanaghan – “The new idea for a European Resource Hierarchy could provide a whole-life framework for the stewardship of national/global natural capital use throughout the productive economy…”

It is envisaged that through transitional arrangements, the European Resource Hierarchy could supersede the EU-waste hierarchy.

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The European Resource Hierarchy would necessitate a holistic and systemic shift, enabling legislative, regulatory, voluntary and fiscal interventions to be aligned to:

  • resource targets which address natural capital depletion in the productive economy and progress towards (national) sustainable resource management
  • measuring progress towards sustainable waste management across member states via annual environmental accounts, which in turn inform subsequent amendment to resource targets
  • urgently address supply chain blockages associated with resource use within the productive economy and throughout their entire life-cycle
  • incentivise the entire supply chain towards closed-loop manufacture, in the transition towards a vibrant circular economy.

Dr McLanaghan commented: “The new idea for a European Resource Hierarchy could provide a whole-life framework for the stewardship of national/global natural capital use throughout the productive economy, bring focus to addressing market failures associated with resource use throughout the entire supply chain, and contribute to the delivery of a vibrant circular economy and progress towards sustainable resource management.”

Dr Stuart McLanaghan is a UK-based Resource Management Professional and Member of British Standards Committee SDS/1/10 Sustainable Resource Management.

McLanaghan has advised the UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit on new and emerging technologies to deliver the EU-Landfill Directive, and played a formative role in Defra’s New Technologies Demonstrator Programme.

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