Verde Environmental Consultants & Oil Leak Clean Up Specialists Reuse and recycling are key to tackling Europe’s waste problem – Verde – Complete Environmental Solutions
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Reuse and recycling are key to tackling Europe’s waste problem

European Union Member States face a dilemma on how to deal with the millions of tonnes of waste generated in Europe every year, amid a growing number of bans and tougher international rules on the export of certain waste to other countries. There is growing concern over the impact of such waste on the environment and our health, as well as the impacts of increased resource extraction, production and consumption. Waste generation also contributes to air, water and soil pollution as well as climate change and biodiversity loss.

The two EEA briefings provide an assessment of the role of plastic waste export in the circular economy and a snapshot of resource losses from waste management – the latter looking specifically at waste from electrical and electronic equipment, end-of-life batteries, plus textile and plastic waste.

Reducing plastic waste exports is an opportunity to reuse and recycle

In early 2019, the EU exported about 150 000 tonnes of plastic waste per month. This is around half the amount exported in 2015 and 2016, when exports went primarily to China and Hong Kong. However, new bans and restrictions on imports by China, combined with a number of banned types of plastic being added to a United Nations convention, are forcing the EU and countries to improve their own capacities to handle the waste at home. These bans and restrictions and a shrinking international market for plastics will likely increase landfilling and incineration in the short term, but should also trigger investments in capacities and systems to increase recycling and reuse of plastic waste.

The EEA briefing on exports of plastic waste shows there is huge potential to increase reuse and recycling in the coming years. Reusing and recycling plastic waste could provide a large amount of material resources for local manufacturers. The briefing notes that the EU has already taken steps to improve the management of plastic production, use and waste, including the European strategy for plastics in the circular economy, the EU’s Single Use Plastics Directive, and new, more ambitious targets for plastic recycling included in the EU’s updated waste directives of 2018.

Sustainable waste management is key

Progress is being made in Europe to bolster an already ambitious waste policy and to establish a solid circular economy framework. However, the EU is still losing out on opportunities to reuse a significant amount of valuable resources currently being lost through inefficient waste management practices.

The EEA briefing on resources and waste management shows that tens of millions of tonnes of plastic waste are generated in the EU every year. Alongside plastics, millions more of tonnes of electronic waste – like old computers, cameras or TVs, and textiles (mostly clothing) are also regularly thrown away with little to no recycling or repurposing. Poor or inadequate collection, reuse and recycling of these waste streams plus low consumer awareness of the waste problem all need addressing in order to improve the situation. The presence of hazardous substances can also hamper recycling and hence opportunities to move to increased circularity, as do products not properly designed for recycling.

Source – European Environment Agency

Verde Environmental Consultants provide an extensive range of waste management consultancy services specifically to the waste management sector, delivered by an expert team with considerable knowledge and experience of working directly within the industry.

Our unique experience means that we possess a comprehensive understanding of practical and technical issues and can offer a wide range of tailored advisory services and solutions.

These include:

  • Waste management planning services including: site selection studies, site investigations, preparation of waste/IED facility licence, permit and certificate of registration applications.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment and Appropriate Assessment.
  • Waste characterisation and sampling; Verde can undertake a characterisation of wastes as required by landfill regulations and undertake the necessary sampling to assess whether a waste is classified as hazardous or non-hazardous.
  • Waste minimisation and clean technology services.
  • Provision of tailored in-house environmental compliance training.
  • Compliance audits of waste disposal contractors and waste management facilities.
  • Waste collection permit applications and compliance.
  • Design of waste management policies and procedures.
  • Environmental monitoring of groundwater, surface water, foul water, dust, noise, leachate, landfill gas and reporting (quarterly and annual environment reports).
  • Occupational health monitoring services (noise and air quality).
  • Environmental Liability Risk Assessment (ELRA) and Closure Restoration Aftercare Management Plans (CRAMP).
  • Other reports as may be required by regulatory bodies (energy audits, technical amendment applications, firewater retention, bund testing, BAT compliance).
  • Contaminated land investigation and remediation solutions.
  • Licence surrender and licence transfer applications.
  • Consultation on legislative and technical matters.
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