Sunday, November 23, 2008

Waste "Hi, Err, Arc, Eeeee"

The second day of the Organic Diversion in Urban Environments conference went well. At least I knew where to sit.

INSERT STORY: The first day I walked to the back of the room and tried to enter the clear-glass box labeled "English". Two stunned ladies turned around with a look that said, "Whaaat." Oh. Right. I realized with a Homer-Simpson-"d'oh!"-moment that the box is for the people that translate all of the other languages into English. Ooops. On Day #2 I felt like a seasoned pro as I sat down in the conference room and put on my nifty headphones (and gave a little wave to the translators).

Here is a photo of the conference room, with Lisa Brown of Impact Environmental (Australia) and Tom Quested of WRAP (England). You can see the translation window boxes in the background. Lisa is on a three-month fellowship to learn about organic diversion and bring her findings back to Australia. I mentioned Tom's work in my previous post.
So. The big topic of discussion was the Waste Framework Directive, which was adopted by the European Council on October 20, 2008. This directive goes into effect 20 days after it has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The member states will then have 14 months to comply. Tick tick.
Here are two bits of the Waste Directive that were discussed.

1) The establishment of a waste hierarchy, as follows:

  • WASTE PREVENTION (preferred option);
  • RE-USE;
  • RECOVERY (including energy recovery);
  • SAFE DISPOSAL (as a last resort); and

2) the establishment of recycling targets: by 2020, Member States must recycle 50% of their household and similar waste and 70% of their construction and demolition waste.

Targets were set for recycling... but not for waste prevention. It's not surprising -- it seems much easier to deal with the issue at the back end (re-use, recycling, recovery, or disposal) than to try to change behavior at the front end (waste prevention).

I'd like to talk a little bit more about my perceptions of behavior change... but maybe in another post. Till then,

Cheers, from a snowy Belgium,

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