Monday, 16 April 2012

Making waste a resource

The European Commission published a report on the 10th of April 2012 on the use of economic instruments and waste management performances. Taking into account the environmental concerns of our century, good policy choices regarding management of waste and resources are crucial for the development of the EU. Citizens in every Member State need to be encouraged to participate in good resources policies. The report points out towards vast differences between Member States. While six most advanced Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands) landfills less than 3% of their municipal waste and have high recycling rates, there are still 9 Member States that landfill more than 75% of their waste.

It is interesting to see that aside some public administrative measures directed at companies, e.g., landfill and incineration taxes or bans, other measures adopted to motivate citizens to segregate their waste and to recycle have proved effective. For example, the 'pay-as-you-throw' scheme, where citizens are charged a certain fee based on the amount of garbage they are disposing of. Another scheme - 'producer responsibility' - increases the responsibility of producers of goods for their packaging, encouraging them to take measures to collect packaging from citizens after the use of the product. Think about a possibility to give back beer or soda bottles in a supermarket - the small fee that you get in return is an incentive to act environmentally-friendly, at the same time the company may reuse its packaging, which saves it costs and taxes.

The European Commission is considering legally binding measures that would lead to implementing existing waste legislation more effectively (Environment - Getting gold from garbage - how some Member States are making waste a resource).

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