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Friends of the Earth Europe’s new report “Preventing Waste: Recycling isn’t enough for a circular economy” points to a requirement of EU policies to reach a resource-efficient and lower-consuming Europe, while showcasing community led solutions on waste prevention. Ariadna Rodrigo, resource and consumption campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe discusses the need of the new EU commission to step forward and take responsibility of the overconsumption and to start reducing waste in Europe.
Friends of the Earth Europe are working strongly to promote the link between waste policy and a low consuming Europe. Ariadna emphasizes that when talking about waste management we should start looking at sustainable material management from the start to the end: “we focus a lot on the prevention on waste - we say recycling is not enough as the solution to all of our problems, which many of our decision makers are trying to sell to us”. She further explains that recycling is not enough for a circular economy and rather should be seen as: “a last resort on how to use our materials”. With this new report Friends of the Earth Europe aim at highlighting that: “we need to start looking at how we use resources in in a more comprehensive way that takes into consideration, not only Europeans welfare, but also the limits of our planet.”
EU does not follow the waste hierarchy
The European Waste Hierarchy is one of the main features of The Waste Framework Directive (WFD) that was approved in the European legislation in 2008 on European waste management. The European Waste Hierarchy contains of five legally binding steps: first comes the prevention of waste, before reuse and preparation for reuse of waste, recycling, recovery and last disposal. Ariadna says nevertheless that most of the policies at the EU level do not follow the waste hierarchy: “we see that all the economic incentives are the other way around - the bottom of this waste hierarchy is also promoted economically”. Furthermore, she points to how the new European commission withdrew the circular economy package that the previous commission tabled: “the circular economy package was legislation on how to use our resources better and how to reduce waste”. Due to pressure from Friends of the Earth and civil society the commission have decided to retable.
Communities working together to prevent waste
The report also highlights community led projects that intends to reduce European resource use and waste. The report shows on case studies where: “it is often local, under-resourced communities, guided by principles of sustainability, that are at the forefront of improving resource use and waste prevention”. For Adriana this is something that is very important: “we see is leadership and innovation – willingness to transformation from citizens”. As an example she brings up an initiative of community gatherings in Netherlands where people get together and repair their broken products together: “they use this initiative to demand decision makers to start changing the legislation whether it is to make warranties last longer or insuring that manufactures make products last longer.”
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