A new report from Friends of the Earth Europe looks at how best practice community-led initiatives could support the circular economy.
Preventing Waste: Recycling isn’t Enough for a Circular Economy shows that Europe cannot face the challenges of a resource-constrained world unless waste legislation becomes part of a wider strategy to reduce resource use.
It shows that even if we were to achieve 100% recycling of a particular material, there would still be a need for more virgin material to be extracted because of growing consumption.
It suggests that best practice examples can teach policymakers how to move to a model where waste is prevented in the first place.
These examples include municipalities that have unilaterally reached recycling rates of over 80%, citizen-led projects to provide the skills and knowledge to repair products, and networks of borrowing shops that cut down on unnecessary purchase of new items.
With the support of governments, these examples should become policy, the report suggests.
Friends of the Earth Europe resource use campaigner Ariadna Rodrigo said: “The solutions to make a true circular economy already exist and already work. Now the EU and our governments should give them the support they need. We can’t rely on citizen-led initiatives and progressive local authorities to carry the whole burden of preventing and reducing waste. European and national policies need to finish the excellent work that’s been started.
“The quiet dropping of the European Commission’s nascent plans to promote a circular economy is extremely disheartening. The case studies in this report show what solutions are possible, but action on a much larger scale is needed if Europe’s waste is to be prevented and reduced.”