The current waste hierarchy, as it appears in the Waste Framework Directive is a good tool to provide guidance in the transition to modern waste management, as Zero Waste Europe quotes. But it is limited and limiting as it looks at things from a solely environmental standpoint, not taking into account social, economic and logistic factors.
Zero Waste Europe believes a new hierarchy is needed to change the mindset from waste management to resource management, and ensure that the value of our resources is preserved in the economy for the new generations.
While the current waste hierarchy pivots around recycling and extracting energy from waste, the milestone of the Zero Waste hierarchy is – according to Zero Waste Europe – value and energy preservation via designing waste out of the system.
“We need new tools for the new times, and the Zero Waste hierarchy we propose is a tool that sets the right priorities to achieve Europe’s Circular Economy goals” says Joan Marc Simon, Zero Waste Europe Executive Director.
In order to achieve ambitious circularity and sustainability goals, the main priority of economic and environmental EU policies should be to change consumption habits, rethink business models and make them waste-free by design.
“The EU knows how to manage waste, but not how to manage resources. The newly elected Commission and Parliament should propose a whole new set of legislation with the legal and economic incentives for products and packaging to be designed not to generate waste in the first place” concluded Simon.
Zero Waste Europe recently published a study, conducted by the Wuppertal Institute, on holistic indicators for waste prevention, because only focusing on prevention, as both hierarchies indicate, will assure a true Circular Economy.