All I wanted for Christmas was… for those wanting a circular utopia to avoid creating a dystopia for everyone else, says FRN’s Craig Anderson, and he hopes the new year brings a sensible resolution!
Where to start with the EC Circular Economy Package? Right at the top of the hierarchy I think…Reuse is not really about waste – it is about products being in service, safe and used by consumers.
Vision is a great thing, and so is leadership, but we need those out there with the ideas and developing policy to fully understand the impact of what such ideas and policy have in practice. Not just the impact related to the immediate intent of an idea or policy clause, but also those unforeseen or ignored consequences that will surface because of such interventions.
“The devil is in the detail and part of the Package’s proposed amendments could make it very difficult for those in the reuse sector if we don’t see corrections to it”
As a sector, the social economy reuse sector is often still patronisingly viewed as the Cinderella sector – we do not accept this view and, in part due to our long-standing aims to improve society and welfare for people and planet, we perhaps have a more un-blinkered view of how small changes here and there can be catastrophic somewhere else.
The fundamental ideals – which make up the circular economy – of moving from a high consumption market system to the practice of a sharing economy with increased public wellbeing is possible, and is happening at the local level. The response from social economy reuse organisations to the failure of the state is the backbone of the sector’s history.
We act to meet the need in our society and will continue to do so in a practical way. We are addressing income and wealth disparities and are using resources to lead the change in people’s and society’s chances of a better future. The reuse sector is busy sorting society’s ills in a practical sense; what is needed is help to address the vision and to gain the authority and evidence to make a real difference – but what we have now is a technical policy change that is devoid of a full impact assessment.
“The reuse sector is busy sorting society’s ills in a practical sense; what is needed is help to address the vision and to gain the authority and evidence to make a real difference…”
We do welcome the essence of the overall Circular Economy Package and respect that it is breaking silos and contributing to broad priorities by tackling climate change whilst boosting job creation, economic growth and social fairness. However, the devil is in the detail and part of the Package’s proposed amendments could make it very difficult for those in the reuse sector if we don’t see corrections to it.
Annex VI for amending the Directive 2008/98/EC on waste has a calculation that insists that “Preparing for Reuse” weight (R) is added to the weight of “municipal waste generated” (P). These products being prepared for reuse are already counted as waste and therefore these amendments result in double counting – unless the EC is trying, as we suspect, to bring non-waste items into their overall waste and recycling calculations. Clearly this make no sense, legally or by definition.
Although we sometimes work to get waste products out of waste streams, reusers – as a sector – cannot be put at risk by unduly burdensome and misdirected policy decisions. Nor can we be put at risk by grammatical nuances, misplaced commas and calculations that contain fundamental errors. It leaves us alarmed and begging the question of “how can a ‘non-waste’ product legally be in scope of an EC waste directive?”
Finally, why would we give over the data on the vast majority of products we reuse, which are not waste, when it’s our business and occurs regardless of the waste sector and despite the State?