There is, as always, quite a lot happening in Europe at the moment as regards the circular economy/resource efficiency/sustainable waste management agenda. However, I wanted to focus on three key issues, the imminent publication of the EU’s Circular Economy package, an EU project focused on developing best practice environmental models and Horizon2020.
According to Mr Kestutis Sadauskas, Director for the Green Economy in Brussels, the Circular Economy package will be released on 2 December, 2015. It is reported that the package will focus on separate collection of materials to improve the strength of the secondary materials markets by increasing the quality of the collected materials. In addition it was stated that there is likely to be special focus on food waste, small Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and packaging, amongst other issues. I have written in a previous post about the need for the package to develop markets for the EU’s secondary materials.
You can read more about the circular economy agenda here
It has also recently been announced that the Horizon 2020: 2016-2017 Work Programme has been adopted. Horizon 2020 is the biggest ever EU research and innovation funding programme, worth €77 billion over the seven year period leading up to the year 2020. I wrote previously about the first results of the Horizon2020 programme.
The 2016-2017 Work Programme, which represents almost €16 billion worth of funding opportunities for researchers in the EU, focuses on Europe’s global competitiveness, the creation of new and sustainable jobs and the promotion of economic growth. For example, the Smart and Sustainable Cities (€132 million), Energy Efficiency (€194 million), and Competitive Low-carbon Energy (€723 million) calls, plus three new Horizon Prizes, all intended to promote wiser energy use while fighting climate change. In addition, there are approximately 10,000 training and career development opportunities abroad to be funded through Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions.
I was recently lucky enough to be a part of a Technical Working Group that met in Leuven, Belgium. The Group has been tasked with assisting the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in developing an EMAS sectoral reference document (SRD) on best environmental management practice for the waste management sector (see the photo above). It is expected that this document should be ready by late 2016. More information on the project can be found here.
These are exciting and changing times for the sustainable management of resources in the EU. There is no doubt that significant challenges lie ahead to realise the potential value from our resources and to be able to effectively compete with the rest of the world. However, at the same time, there are also opportunities, as for example, embodied within the Horizon2020 2016-2017 Work Programme. The key is to work collaboratively to seize the opportunities and to make the most of them.