EU roadmap signals resource-efficiency drive

14th October 2011


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Life Cycle Analysis ,
  • Ecodesign ,
  • Products ,
  • EU

Author

IEMA

Eliminating landfill and halting biodiversity loss by 2020 are the primary goals of the new roadmap from the European Commission to a resource-efficient Europe.

The new roadmap outlines measures that will safeguard the use of key resources such as water, clean air and other ecosystem services, and ultimately ensure that the EU economy is functioning sustainably and competitively.

“Green growth is the only sustainable future – for Europe and the world,” said environment commissioner Janez Potocnik. “Industry and environment need to work hand in hand – in the long term our interests are the same.”

The roadmap aims to ensure that by 2020 ecosystem services are properly valued by governments and businesses and that waste has become a managed resource.

The commission says that member states must do more to encourage consumers to move towards more resource-efficient products, shifting tax burdens towards polluters, ensuring product prices better reflect the costs of resources, and promoting eco-design and eco-labelling.

The scale of the task facing member states to improve resource efficiency is revealed by a report from the Green Alliance.

The document, Reinventing the wheel: A circular economy for resource security, looks at three key resources: metals; phosphorous; and water; and argues that our profligate use of them is both economically and environmentally unsustainable.

On metals, for example, the Green Alliance notes that out of 60 metals analysed by the United Nations Environment Programme, only 18 had end-of-life recycling rates of more than 50%, and over half, including 14 rare earth metals, had recycling rates of less than 1%. It also highlights the growing problem of diminishing returns from mining metal ore, saying that copper ore mined at the beginning of the 20th century contained about 3% copper, but typical ore now contains only 0.3%.

The environment think-tank wants improved recovery rates and claims the existing producer responsibility regimes, such as for waste electrical and electronic equipment, batteries, end-of-life vehicles and packaging, are failing, with many valuable metals not being recovered.

Only 3% of people return mobile phones for recycling or reuse, says the report. It advocates a range of rewards and incentives to boost recycling and recovery.

The manufacturing body EEF also wants to see better recycling and recovery of valuable materials, but says that will only happen if the UK invests in establishing appropriate waste management facilities.

Its new report, Ascending the waste hierarchy, says the UK currently lacks facilities to manage some wastes, making recycling and recovery expensive.

The EEF gives the recovery of valuable metals contained in the dust from flue gas cleaning filters as an example, explaining that recovery facilities exist on the Continent, but not in the UK, forcing domestic manufacturers to ship their waste overseas, which adds to the cost and regulatory burden.

The Green Alliance and EEF reports follow one from the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group, which concludes that the UK’s waste management infrastructure needs £8 billion of investment by 2020 to meet EU Directives and cut the amount of waste going to landfill.

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

Fifth of UK food firms unprepared for deforestation regulation

One in five UK food businesses are not prepared for EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) coming into force in December, a new survey has uncovered.

16th May 2024

Read more

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Dr Julie Riggs issues a call to arms to tackle a modern-day human tragedy

15th March 2024

Read more

The UK’s new biodiversity net gain (BNG) requirements could create 15,000 hectares of woodlands, heath, grasslands, and wetlands and absorb 650,000 tonnes of carbon each year.

13th March 2024

Read more

Campaign group Wild Justice has accused the UK government of trying to relax pollution rules for housebuilders “through the backdoor”.

14th February 2024

Read more

Digital tracking, packaging data delays and new collections provide a waste focus for this edition’s environmental round-up by legislation expert Neil Howe

28th November 2023

Read more

Environmental crimes could result in prison sentences of up to 10 years and company fines of 5% of turnover under a proposed EU law agreed by the European parliament and council.

21st November 2023

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close