“Linear production approaches are over… circular is the fashion” the European
Commission’s Karl Falkenberg told visitors to RWM in partnership with CIWM today, pushing the message that “waste is out.”
He said that the world not only needs to become much more efficient in how it manages its resources but also that those resources need to
be kept in the loop for as long as possible.
“That means designing our products to last,” he said, “it means repairbility of products and it mean reuse of products. Where we really don’t know what to do with old products, it means getting at the materials and getting them back in the loop to create secondary materials.”
The European Commission is expected to publish its “more ambitious” circular economy package by the end of the year after the first draft was axed at the end of 2014.
“We must take waste from the fringes and put it at the heart of the economy. The circular economy must put raw materials and minerals at the heart of the economy.”
He spoke of the waste hierarchy and its role in the upcoming package, and also the role that design plays at the beginning of a product’s life cycle in reducing the amount of materials that are wasted.
“We need to think at the design stage how to get the materials we put into a product back,” he said. “We must take waste from the fringes and put it at the heart of the economy. The circular economy must put raw materials and minerals at the heart of the economy.”
Focusing on the UK, Falkenberg said that the UK is lagging behind countries such as Germany with regards to how much waste it is currently sending to landfill and that he is always “surprised” when he sees how much waste the UK exports for use as fuel in other countries.
“The closer to where we produce the waste the better we can treat it,” he said. “This does not mean I think we should close markets, but I think we should find proximity solutions.”
He also touched upon the issues of targets commingling, saying that data from other member states show separate collections produce better quality recycling. He said that only the UK says it can get the same quality another way.
With regards to targets to be issued in the forthcoming package, he conceded that some countries will find them much more difficult than others, but he also said that the targets are there for the lagging countries.
“I want to make sure the targets we’re setting are affectively attained by whatever way an individual member state wants to go,” he said.