We must choose resource efficiency for a truly circular economy
We must choose resource efficiency for a truly circular economy, writes Brigitte Dero.
Brigitte Dero | Photo credit: VinylPlus
The earth’s population keeps growing; unfortunately its size doesn’t. More than ever, using and managing resources in a more durable and sustainable way is vital to the future of our planet. With the circular economy package, EU decision makers have recognised the importance of keeping the value of resources within the loop for as long as possible.
The preservation of our environment, economic model and social well-being depends on this. With European leaders currently developing the plastics strategy and the chemical, product and waste interface, they should not lose sight of this essential cog of the circular economy.
VinylPlus, the voluntary sustainability programme of the European PVC industry, started implementing this loop model 17 years ago. Our voluntary commitment is achieving major results with the recycling of nearly 600,000 tonnes of PVC in 2016.
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Since it began in 2000, over 3.6 million tonnes of PVC have been recycled; reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, saving resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating jobs.
The programme’s results are evaluated by an independent monitoring committee that guarantees VinylPlus’ transparency and accountability and also stimulates the industry to rise to new challenges. We are on track towards our next target: recycling 800,000 tonnes of PVC per year by 2020.
Our voluntary commitment to sustainability and the circular economy pushes us to reach such ambitious recycling targets. VinylPlus’ major results would not have been achieved without a credible and forward-looking commitment by the industry.
Voluntary programmes such as VinylPlus, undertaken in full transparency and with real commitment of the entire value chain, can be extremely effective in meeting ambitious targets. They can efficiently deliver concrete successes for a more sustainable and circular Europe.
Often, the lack of information about the origin, quality and composition of secondary raw materials is mentioned as a hurdle to recycling.
In order to alleviate such concerns, EU policies should encourage circular systems that keep track of these resources and ensure they stay within the economy.
With VinylPlus we have tested and strongly encourage the development and use of traceability schemes. Such systems guarantee the safest and best quality recycling with appropriate handling precautions and information to downstream users while ensuring that materials are kept in the loop.
Appropriate traceability and certification schemes would help avoid unnecessary disposal and the loss of valuable resources. They could help stimulate the demand for secondary raw materials, which is key to make the circular economy a reality.
It is time for EU decision makers to encourage resource-efficient models that will stimulate jobs, innovation and investment.
With the circular economy, they have a significant opportunity to do so and to reinforce 17 years of efforts from the PVC industry to develop an effective sustainability and recycling scheme.
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