This article explores the limitations of the waste hierarchy for achieving absolute reductions in material throughput in the economy. The waste hierarchy is an established rule of thumb for waste management and prioritises waste prevention over reuse, recycling, incineration, and landfill. The authors describe the origins of the waste hierarchy and compare its original aims with its current use. It is found that the waste hierarchy can serve to minimise landfill but may not always lead to the best environmental outcome.
This briefing paper analyses the UK’s waste policies to date, and recommends practical steps towards creating a cultural shift in the way we manage our resources and what we consider ‘waste’. The paper identifies three strategic goals that policy must support, including: a better understanding among business and government of how the UK’s resources are used; a cultural and behavioural shift throughout society in favour of reusing materials; and an end to inefficient and polluting treatment of reusable and recyclable (or ‘secondary’) materials.
DYNAMIX is an EU-funded FP7 research project which aims to identify dynamic and robust policy mixes that can lead to decoupling the environmental impact of resource use from economic growth in the European Union. A newsletter outlining the most recent project findings has just been released.
The European Resource Efficiency Platform (EREP) was established to provide high-level guidance to the European Commission, EU Member States and private actors on the transition to a more resource-efficient economy. Following its final meeting on 31st March, EREP has developed their final set of policy recommendations. The recommendations accompany those made in June 2013 and together form part of the Platform’s ‘Manifesto and Policy Recommendations’ document, which is available online via its website.