News Room

24 July

Zero Waste Management: for a sustainable economy

The urban population of Europe is rapidly growing and with more than half of the population of Europe living in cities, it poses big challenges to the management of waste in Europe’s largest cities. Because of the fact that Europe’s urban population keeps growing, it is even estimated that by 2050 almost 70% of the population will live in cities, it is important to maintain an effective management of waste in the cities now, and for the future (Vilella, Theworldpost, 2017).

In Europe, only 40% of the waste that we generate is being recycled, the rest is either buried or burned. This causes environmental destruction and threatens ecosystems. Therefore, the reduction of waste is one of the biggest international goals that we have to deal with in Europe.

Controversial or badly managed waste leads to resources losing their value, which is called resource depletion. It could also lead to air pollution, environmental and health impacts.

Therefore we have to review and challenge the recent methods of waste management by managing the resources in a way that their value and energy are preserved, thereby getting rid of the waste management method designed for the current linear economy and enabling a circular economy to flourish in Europe.

Tackling the waste challenge can transform the way how we cope with resources and provide practical strategies to reduce climate pollution, maintaining energy resources and provide opportunities for local and regional economies.

Unfortunately, at the moment the gap between the commission and the local and regional institutions is too big, which prevents the EU and the European larger cities to start working on types of policies for developments towards a sustainable economy.

But the transition of radical reduction of waste has already begun: The Zero Waste movement. It is currently being implemented by innovative and local leaders in Europe in order for their cities to be sustainable. The final goal of the Zero Waste philosophy is to design natural cycles where all sorts of waste can be used as resources for others to use (zerowasteeurope.eu, 2013). The network of Zero Waste has been growing rapidly as it has now more than 350 members and municipalities in more than 7 EU countries.

Expressed in the Zero Waste movement, in order to promote urban sustainability, we have to radically reduce our residential, communal and industrial waste and the EU hopes that more cities join this movement. A good example would be initiating a call for prosopal like: the 'Zero Waste City Label’.

The implementation of such a label should aim to:

-       enhance environmental sustainability

-       improve the quality of urban life in European metropoles specifically by tackling the issue of waste

-       bridge the gap between the EU and urban municipalities

-       establish the role of the EU as a facilitator of the transition towards a circular economy and sustainable metropoles.

(Source: Lijan Klassen, Circular economy, ec.europa.eu, 2017)

One of the most important goals of Zero Waste label is to ensure resource recovery and protect natural resources. This includes the reducing and eventually ending waste disposal of cement plants, dumps and landfills. Next to the fact that these ‘solutions’ are costly, it is also known to be highly toxic, air polluting and destructive for local recycling economies. In order for the Zero Waste label to succeed we have to show strong political will, but also community leadership that are willing to adapt local strategies.

A Zero Waste label would help the big European cities to change into a sustainable and circular economy. It would be beneficial for Europeans at local and regional level due to amount of job creation that comes along with the development of a circular economy and enhance the communication beweet local authorities and the European Union. In the process, European cities will be involved in the development of prevention strategies to reduce waste and air pollution. 

- written by Leander Vranken

Read 332 times Last modified on Monday, 24 July 2017 10:37
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