Waste management as a sector is a core green focus, too often forgotten. It entails not only environmental aspects, but also economic and social aspects, and thus is an integral part of the Green New Deal. Indeed, from an ecological perspective, we can go beyond the historic elements of air, water and ground pollution - implications for Water Framework and IPPC directives - to the more modern approaches of resource efficiency, ecological footprint and the impact of CO2 emissions. It is precisely by considering waste as a potential new resource that we bring it squarely into the economic field. In times where finite raw materials and oil are getting more and more unaffordable, the recycling of energy and fuel-intensive materials like plastics or aluminium is crucial to reducing manufacturing bills. Waste logistics are also a relevant element of concern as the externalising of waste handling to private agents has too often brought corruption in the sector and even the presence of organised crime, particularly in Southern Europe.
However, nowadays in many EU countries we are still constrained by short-sighted waste policies that entail an absolute squandering of huge amounts of financial resources in the mid-long term, something unacceptable in the current times of crisis. Much of these resources that used unwisely come from the EU structural funds and too often this misuse of resources poses severe social degradations or severe threats to the wellbeing of entire populations. By contrast, a proper re-use and recycling policy could be an undeniable source of high-value local jobs. If we consider this aspect as part of the change of paradigm that the Green New Deal wants to bring forward, advanced waste management policies entail changes at different levels of governance: from the local level of management to a more EU-wide and even global comprehensive approach on waste policies in connection to macroeconomic figures.
Therefore, in the framework of the Resource Efficiency Roadmap which aims at phasing out landfill and incineration of non-recyclable waste and move towards a circular economy, this event will present the best Zero Waste practices that have allowed for waste reduction and high recycling rates while minimising residual waste. Hence, we will illustrate practical examples of municipalities and communities that are moving towards Zero Waste and help to raise awareness about the latest developments in waste policy, including the institutional dimension. Moreover, we can count on updated overviews thanks to the expertise of organisations, enterprises and NGOs from the sector, which encompasses many local and regional authorities as well.