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The influence of the waste hierarchy in shaping European waste management: The case of plastic waste

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Waste management in Europe has experienced significant changes since the 1970s. The majority of Member State waste management regimes have shifted from policies based on the control of waste disposal activities, to include goals for waste prevention and recovery. The rapid increase of plastic packaging recycling in Germany had a number of unintended consequences. In the first years of the Packaging Ordinance, the majority of plastic packaging collected was exported to China, Eastern Europe, and other EU Member States due to lack of national capacity. The setting of high recycling targets for plastic packaging waste between 1991 and 1998 and the prohibition of incineration with energy recovery was a key driver of recycling technology innovation in Germany. When adopting new principles to serve as the foundation of belief, they should synchronize with the existing waste management myths of individual regions, as myths may differ from region to region illustrating different cultural ideals.
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... For example, the variation in national waste management systems have been explained according to the different articulation of a number of principles, including the prevention, precautionary, waste hierarchy, polluter-pays (implemented through extended producer responsibility), proximity, self-sufficiency and subsidiarity principles (Buclet 2002). Within the EU, some of these principles can be traced back to the start of the oil crisis, the beginning of the sustainability movement or national waste management crises (Lazarevic et al. 2010). ...
... Some sort of circularity in the form of waste reduction and prevention, existed in Europe since the mid-1970s; the waste hierarchy (i.e. 3R framework) was adopted as the principle waste management policy in the first EU waste framework directive 75/442/EEC (EC-JRC, 1975;Lazarevic, Buclet, & Brandt, 2010). Resource efficiency was the next, promoted as the flagship agenda in Europe 2020 strategy 'The Roadmap to a resource efficient Europe' (COM/2011(COM/ /0571, 2011 ...
Technical Report
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Circular Economy (CE) will accelerate the emerging shift in resource consumption from finite to renewable and plants are key in enabling the switch as industries would opt more and more for resources with a bio-based origin. Cities have an important role in the process not only as the main consumers of the resources but also because vegetation provides numerous intangible ecosystem services essential for the wellbeing of urban dwellers. But the urban lands are heavily burdened with present activities and ongoing urbanization. Retrofitting the now obsolete and potentially contaminated brownfields provides an opportunity to engage bio-based land uses within the city periphery. At the same time, vegetation can be incorporated with Gentle Remediation Option (GRO), an alternative and more sustainable option over common ‘dig and dump’ remediation to eradicate the contamination concern and restore soil health. ‘Opportunities of bio-based production in urban brownfields’, a Ph.D. research project, concerns with such topics aiming to investigate the possibilities and preconditions for preparing urban brownfields urban bio-based production to foster a bio-based circular economy in the cities. This literature review is performed as part of the research effort to support and capture the wider scope of the project. The review work is focused on outlining the topics, ‘CE’, and ‘urban brownfields’; and establishing a common ground merging these topics from where the rest of the research work can be based on. The novel concept (i.e. CE) are explored in this literature review together with the well-established topic (i.e. brownfields) to set the backdrop and their common subsets (i.e. cities in CE, urban land potential in bio-based CE) are further investigated to guide the review in delivering information necessary for the future project work. Urban Greenspaces (UGSs) and the ecosystem services (ESs) that can be derived from them are discussed as consecutively the potential bio-based land uses and the bio-based products in an urban setting. 14 UGSs are additionally explored to better understand the scope of ESS in the cities.
... Although the circular economy is often identified with the principle of recycling, it should be stressed that this may be the least sustainable solution compared to the other two principles, both in terms of resource efficiency and profitability [8][9][10]. Recycling is limited by the complexity of materials such as plastics [11], for example. Some waste materials are recyclable to a certain point or even non-recyclable. ...
Conference Paper
The problem of the presence of waste in the marine environment has recently taken on the dimensions of a complex and global challenge. In an effort to reduce both the economic and environmental costs of managing port waste, many ports are looking for sustainable solutions for marine waste management. Plasma-assisted gasification (PAG) is an innovative combination of two technologies, namely plasma treatment and gasification, which can be used to efficiently convert carbon-containing wastes to a clean syngas (H2 + CO). The latter can be used to generate electricity directly in gas engines, dual-fuel generators, gas turbines or fuel cells. PAG provides several key benefits which allow removing all the environmental, regulatory and commercial risks typically associated with the potential eco-toxicity of leachable bottom ash produced by incinerators or other thermal processes. PAG does not produce any waste (zero waste), reduces the need for landfilling of waste, and produces a high-value construction material (Plasmarok) which is recognized as a product. All these reasons make PAG a technology capable of optimally solving waste management in ports in line with a circular economy logic. This study is based upon the IMPATTI-NO Project (Interreg IT-FR Maritime Program 2014–2020) which implements several laboratory applications aimed at the chemical-physical treatment of the non-recyclable waste containing plastics deriving from the collection of beached waste and wastes collected by fishermen’s trawls and passenger ships. To demonstrate the effectiveness of PAG for the treatment of port waste, IMPATTI-NO performs experimental tests that simulate PAG pilot plants using artificial samples representative of port waste. This paper describes the research path developed so far and the preparatory elements that led to the definition of specifications for the sampling and collection of port waste.
... In the European Union (EU), waste policy as traditionally focused on the prevention of waste and diverting waste from landfill toward treatment options further up the waste hierarchy (i.e. energy recovery, recycling and reuse (Lazarevic et al. 2010)), product policy has emphasised extended producer responsibility (Kautto 2006) and chemical policy (i.e. REACH) has focused on the safe use of chemicals and substances from virgin and recycled sources. ...
Chapter
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The transition to a circular economy is high on the European Union’s policy agenda. The systemic and disruptive changes required for such a transition will not take place without significant changes in existing regulatory structures. In this chapter we aim to provide a broad overview of the European Union’s circular economy policy goals and different policy instruments available to Member States to steer change towards a more circular economy. Many different policy instruments have been adopted to promote more sustainable resource use, including areas of waste, product and chemicals policy. However, these are often scattered, weak and disproportionately divided along economic sectors. We show that whilst there are policy instruments available, to address the fundamental socio-economic metabolism changes required, key policy failures need to be addressed in order to make real progresses toward the circular economy.
... The waste hierarchy sets a priority order for waste treatment options in terms of lowest possible environmental impact and the minimisation of final waste. It is essentially an extension of the precautionary and prevention principles; providing a simple framework to support decision-making at the local and/or national levels (Lazarevic et al. 2010). In Europe, the waste framework directive (2008/98/EC) establishes the waste hierarchy as a priority order constituting the "best overall environmental option in waste legislation and policy", where "the following waste hierarchy shall apply as a priority order in waste prevention and management legislation and policy: (a) prevention; (b) preparing for re-use; (c) recycling; (d) other recovery, e.g. ...
Chapter
The role of waste management (WM) has historically shifted in relation to factors such as the contemporary socio-technical context, societal challenges and priorities. The move toward a more circular economy (CE) is catalyzing a new trajectory that can have broad implications for WM; e.g. how the effectiveness of the sector is defined, how activities are prioritized and steered, and the portfolio of roles the sector will play. As such, alongside technical and business model innovation, established policy and principles for WM will need to be renewed if WM organizations are to be incentivized to more fully support the aims of the CE. This chapter explores some of the barriers identified by industry, including circulation costs and resource valuation issues. Subsequently, potential strategies for aligning the WM sector with the CE are suggested.
... Enablers: For this research, six CE enablers were chosen to capacitate circular change: business models (Lewandowski, 2016) as a method to incorporate circularity within business considerations, eco-innovation and eco-design (Ghisellini et al., 2016;Preston, 2012) as widely accepted concepts amongst politicians and academics, product-service-systems as an important part of the 'leasing' or 'sharing' economy (Hobson and Lynch, 2016) together with collaborative consumption (Lazarevic and Valve, 2017) and, lastly, extended producer responsibility (Gu et al., 2017;Lazarevic et al., 2010) as an increasingly recognized concept amongst politicians for the purpose of shifting circular considerations to earlier product life cycle stages. Table 1 displays how enablers and principles are connected with each other in the CEIP projects. ...
Chapter
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The concept of circular economy has gained momentum in the political, scientific and economic debate in the last few years as a means to promote more sustainable production and consumption patterns in a growing economy. With the Circular Economy Package, the European Union has released an ambitious program that aims to guide the European economy towards a more circular economic system. However, concerns have been raised that circularity in itself does not guarantee environmentally sustainable outcomes. Therefore, in this research 131 projects from the Circular Economy Industry Platform (CEIP) are evaluated regarding their contribution to circular economy from both a scientific and political perspective. Content analysis was applied to derive qualitative and quantitative information from company statements on the platform. This was supplemented by qualitative, semi-structured interviews with company representatives on selected projects. Results showed a diverse approach to circularity across the sample projects, thereby partly expanding the sectoral focus of the circular economy package. Furthermore, eco-design, eco-innovation and business models acted as strong enablers for circular actions in the sample, reflecting respective EU policies. At the same time, sample projects heavily relied on recycling while missing out on potentially more efficient circular principles such as reduction or reuse. High diversity was found regarding the evaluation of overall environmental impacts, with some projects using purely qualitative assessment methods, while other projects presented elaborate quantitative environmental evaluations, including significant positive impact potential. Regulatory challenges were specifically reported regarding the introduction of sound circularity quotas and targets, regarding definitional ambiguities, as well as regarding issues around unknown material compositions that currently impede recirculation.
... The waste management regime has accordingly progressed from policies based on the control of waste disposal activities to embrace aims for waste prevention and recovery. This trend shapes growing attempts to harmonize waste policy objectives at both the EU and UK level [27]. The UK municipal waste definition has also been modified because some Local Authorities only report on waste collected from households as municipal waste, while others include commercial waste [28]. ...
... However, the position papers also enact a fragmented landscape that is diverged; the ideal of a perfect circle was openly questioned. A counterpoint, mostly forwarded by industry associations (standardisation, consumer electronic and home appliances, automobile, chemical 7 A priority order for waste treatment options in terms of lowest possible environmental impact and minimization of final waste (prevention, reuse, material recycling, energy recovery and disposal as a last resort) [85]. ...
Article
The European Union (EU) has set its sights on becoming a circular economy, envisaging a transition that implies systemic changes in natural resource transformations and material flows; and offering a response to what is commonly labelled as the ‘take-make-dispose’ conventional economic model. What does the transition toward a circular economy entail and what can it do? This paper analyses the emergence and mobilisation of expectations that are shaping the EU transition to a circular economy. It traces the narrative elements through which the circular economy is configured through an analysis of position papers presented to inform the debate on the European Commission’s circular economy package. Expectations for the circular economy are articulated as: (1) a perfect circle of slow material flows; (2) a shift from consumer to user; (3) growth through circularity and decoupling; and (4) a solution to European renewal. Extending boundaries of what is ‘in’ benefits actors driving the circular economy as, in the short-term, they can actively support a deliberately vague, but uncontroversial, circular economy. On the one hand, the expectations present a strong sense of a collective ‘we’, on the other hand we are yet to see the contentions and contestations being full playing out.
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The potential of passion fruit (Passiflora edulis Sims) epicarp to produce anthocyanin-based colorants with bioactive properties was evaluated. First, a five-level three-factor factorial design coupled with response surface methodology was implemented to optimize the extraction of anthocyanins from dark purple epicarps. The extraction yield and cyanidin-3-O-glucoside content were used as response criteria. The constructed models were fitted to the experimental data and used to calculate the optimal processing conditions (t = 38 min, T = 20 °C, S = 0% ethanol/water (v/v) acidified with citric acid to pH 3, and RS/L = 50 g/L) that lead to maximum responses (3.4 mg/g dried epicarp and 9 mg/g extract). Then, the antioxidant, antimicrobial, and cytotoxic activities of anthocyanin extracts obtained using the optimized method and a conventional extraction method were evaluated in vitro. The extract obtained by the optimized method revealed a higher bioactivity, in agreement with the higher cyanidin-3-O-glucoside content. This study highlighted the coloring and bioactive potential of a bio-based ingredient recycled from a bio-waste, which promotes a sustainable bioeconomy in the agri-food sector.
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Additive manufacturing is a new emerging technology which is ideal for low-to-zero waste production, and it is considered to be a green and clean process that has the potential to lower the cost and energy consumption of production. However, the cost of the feedstock for additive manufacturing and the additive manufactured parts is usually very high, which hinders the further application of additive manufacturing, especially for the metal additive manufacturing. The concept of circular metal additive manufacturing involves the recycling of the metal feedstock and the additive manufactured parts leading to the truly zero waste production and the most energy saving. This paper reviews the technologies that help the formation of a circular metal additive manufacturing through recycling of the feedstocks and the damaged metal parts. Reactive metals, such as titanium, tend to be contaminated easily during handling and production. Recycling of the titanium for achieving a circular titanium additive manufacturing is reviewed in detail.
Book
Nicolas Buclet and Olivier Godard In terms of economic scale, waste management is one of the two most important environmentally oriented sectors. 1 It stands at the cross-roads in the material organization of society, resource management, changing lifestyles and consumption patterns, and ecological issues. For many years waste management has been perceived as aresources and health issue, confined mainly to dense urban areas, and not an environmental issue. In contemporary affiuent societies, however, the scale reached by waste flows, the inheritance of accumulated deposits in soils from the waste of previous generations and increasing levels of public concern about environmental proteetion and quality of life have all conspired to impose a fresh look at what waste really implies for a modern society. We are obliged to focus our attention on such questions as how the circulation of matter is at present organized by society and can be modified and controlled if economic development is to become more environmentally sustainable. This is the period we live in. Significant changes in waste management in European countries have been introduced during the last decade or so. To some extent the transition between traditional regimes mainly based on local disposal and new regimes based on a revised organisation of flows of waste matter is still in the making, involving new attitudes, new activities, new technologies and new incentives, reducing the pressure on virgin natural resources and eliminating the huge dissipation of various pollutants into the environment.
Book
Nicolas Buclet Waste management issues can be approached in several ways. The question of which treatment technique to adopt is essentially a downstream problem. In our view the issue needed to be tackled further upstream. Waste management is not only a technical problem, it is also an area which involves various actors throughout society. In this book, as in the previous volume (Buclet, Godard, 2000), the organisation of waste management is seen in terms of regimes. A regime is an entire form ofinstitutional, technical, economic and social organisation relating to a specific field, no matter how complex that field is. Regime formation is generally a long-drawn-out process, rooted in the multiple interactions of the actors involved. Legislation plays a crucial role but would not, of itself, lead to the formation of a regime. There is always the old question of causality and which element occurs first: the behaviour of actors who constitute the reality, or the legislation that models their behaviour? Besides legislation, other formal or informal conventions influence the behaviour of actors approaching a common path, making co­ ordination easier between them. In this book we have insisted on conventional principles. They are the real guides for actors within each national regime.
Chapter
The previous chapters have highlighted two important points. The first concerns the numerous observable differences between Member States. It was obvious from the beginning that such differences existed; less obvious was trying to understand these differences and how they emerged. Different historical processes, the varying importance of the categories of actors involved in waste management, the structure of the industry and, more generally, of the economy; many elements lie at the origin of different waste management regimes. Beliefs, routines and conventional principles were reinforced with the passage of time and through the actions of those involved, until they eventually formed a common and coherent framework of action, inscribed within an institutional trajectory (Godard, 1995). The most important point to underline is that, when comparing one regime with another, we cannot ascribe a hierarchy of regimes, or the superiority of one over the others. They represent different sets of compromises; they evolve and constitute coherent and balanced frameworks in which the national actors involved can work
Chapter
The previous chapter emphasised the differences between European countries. Although these countries share many common characteristics and, with the exception of Greece, have embarked on similar economic development, the differences are important. The countries are the product of specific historical development, and have evolved for many years with few outside influences. In each country, patterns of co-ordination were adopted and reinforced over time, producing conventions. Within each regime, composed of conventions and based on a foundation of principles, economic activity has followed a different course. As a consequence, the categories of actors and, more to the point, the importance of each actor within regimes, are far from homogeneous throughout the EU. Therefore, with the growing economic ties between countries sharing a common economic space (first the EEC, subsequently the EU), any interaction involves the confrontation of regimes based on very different premises and representing different interests. In other words, interactions between EU Member States are asymmetric, sometimes leading to the negative influence of particular national regimes.
Chapter
The several forms of interaction examined in the previous two chapters fall into two categories: those originating in the activities of the European economy — activities which assume greater importance because of the Single European Market; those originating in common rules adopted by European institutions
Chapter
This chapter compares the national regimes for the management of municipal solid waste in the five countries concerned: France, Germany, Greece, Italy and the Netherlands. The analysis is based exclusively on national case studies carried out in these countries according to a common methodology, and published in a previous volume in the Kluwer Environment and Management series.1