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Why We Need to Look at Waste Management Through a Different Lens

Published: November 3, 2021

While the disposal and treatment of waste is a growing burden expected to reach 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025, policies designed to manage waste are poorly understood and fragmented.

Robert Corijn Profile picture

Here, Robert Corijn, chair of the Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) Industry Group talks to DSS about why collaboration, the Global Methane Pledge and embracing the circular economy can help improve the outlook.

Question: What is behind the EU’s current disjointed approach to waste management, and what do you see as the impact?

Robert Corijn: We know that waste contributes to carbon emissions, yet policymaking is generally split across different ministries within national governments. There is no formal channel that links climate change initiatives to various industries to allow everyone to assess the overall impact of policies made. There’s also the challenge of how European climate targets are translated nationally. So we will have a situation where one country will introduce waste management solutions tailored to their emissions policies and climate change agenda. Yet waste management strategies that decrease a country’s ability to deal with waste only shift the problem to another location. We need to stop thinking of waste and its impact on climate change as a national issue; it’s a global problem.

Question: How can we improve our understanding of waste management decisions, and what actions will help?

Robert Corijn: Many more people understand and are on board with initiatives that help reduce the waste we produce, whether reducing food waste or recycling. However, transitioning to a sustainable waste platform is a long-term goal. We still need solutions to treat the billions of tons of waste within our society that must be disposed of efficiently and safely now. Not least, as there will always be a certain level of toxic waste that we need to consider. So we need some grownup discussions on the impact of different waste management solutions and where they fit in the carbon reduction toolbox. Importantly, we need to collaborate internationally on waste management solutions rather than focus on national priorities. I currently have high hopes for the Global Methane Pledge between Europe and the US. This type of action will put a spotlight on waste management solutions and help educate the broader public on the challenges and benefits each waste management solution presents. Read full article

We need some grown-up discussions on the impact of different waste management solutions and where they fit in the carbon reduction toolbox.

Robert Corijn, chair of the Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) Industry Group; Marketing Manager at Attero
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