Resource efficiency lies at the heart of a modern, competitive, sustainable economy. Businesses facing higher, more volatile resource prices are looking to eco-innovation for answers. By using assets such as energy, water, land and steel more efficiently – and indeed turning to waste as a resource – they can cut back their bills and environmental footprint.
To build on the notion of green growth, the previous European Commission tabled a circular economy package that proposed new, more ambitious recycling targets, a ban on landfilling recyclable materials by 2025, goals on food waste and marine litter, and a requirement to set up separate bio-waste collection systems. The Commission also envisaged introducing an early warning system to improve member state compliance with waste goals and minimum requirements for extended producer responsibility.
All this was met by a mix of satisfaction and trepidation by Member States and MEPs. They started discussing the proposals until the new Commission proposed to withdraw and replace them with a new, «broader and more ambitious» proposal this year. This has caused consternation among NGOs – which accuse the Commission of a deregulation agenda – and concern among industries in the waste management sector – which had looked to the new legislation to unlock new business opportunities.
The big question now is what direction a new proposal might take. Will it seek more to facilitate rather than regulate? If so, through what means? With what chances of success? And with what implications for the environment and economy? Will it do more to unite Europe’s industrial and environmental policy agendas? Are high-level decision-makers convinced resource efficiency really is an economic opportunity? If not, what can make it so? How can Europe capitalise on the circular economy?
Director-General for Environment, European Commission
Karl Falkenberg has a long experience as a negotiator in the European Commission. He started his career in the Commission as textiles negotiator, has dealt with international fisheries issues and since 1985 with the GATT. In 1990, he served as foreign policy advisor to EU President Jacques Delors, with particular focus on the German unification process. He was involved in the Uruguay Round negotiations and has been negotiating the telecommunications and financial services agreements in WTO. From 1997 to December 2000 he was in charge of the coordination of all WTO issues. In 2001 he was appointed Director in charge of sectoral trade policies and bilateral trade relations with North America, Japan, the Mediterranean area and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and in 2002 Director for Free trade agreements, Agricultural trade questions, ACP. From 2005 to 2008 he coordinated all bilateral trade policies as Deputy Director General. In January 2009, he took up the position of Director General of the Environment, covering the EU’s environmental policy in both its domestic and international dimensions.
Karl Falkenberg is a trained economist and journalist.
Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy MEP
ALDE Group, Shadow rapporteur on the Waste management directive
Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy became a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the ALDE group, representing the social liberal party Democraten 66 (Netherlands) in July 2009 and was re-elected in July 2014. Mr Gerbrandy studied Public Administration at the University of Leiden (NL) and Scranton University (USA). After his graduation he became the political assistant of Joris Voorhoeve, Director of the Institute for International Relations Clingendael. From 1994 to 1998 he was the policy adviser of Doeke Eisma (MEP). Afterwards Mr Gerbrandy became the Secretary General of D66 in the Dutch parliament (Tweede Kamer). Since 2004 Mr Gerbrandy was a senior political adviser at the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality. At the same time he was the International Secretary of D66.
In his second European Parliamentary term, Mr Gerbrandy is a full member of the ENVI Committee (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) and a substitute member of the CONT (Budgetary Control ) and ITRE (Industry, Research and Energy) Committees.
Senior Manager – Sustainability and Recycling Development, Novelis Europe
Having trained as a geologist, Andy has worked in the field of recycling and waste management for the last twenty years in both the public and private sector. Andy joined the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) following eleven years in local government in London and the South east. Within Defra, Andy’s team was responsible for the performance framework for local authorities including the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme and recycling targets. Andy is the former Policy Officer and Chair of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) on whose national Executive Committee he served for 5 years.
Andy joined Novelis in 2006 as their National Manager to manage the collection of Used Beverage Cans (UBC) from the UK market to supply the Latchford reprocessing facility and to support the development of other UBC recovery programmes in Europe. In 2012 he changed roles to lead on recycling development and sustainability activities in the Novelis Europe group and is increasingly involved in Government Affairs activities with European Aluminium Association and EUROPEN (European Organization for Packaging and the Environment) and customer contacts on sustainability issues.
Andy is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management and an associate member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment. In 2006 Andy joined the Board of Resource Media (a social enterprise publishing company specializing in in the area of sustainability) and became Chair in 2008. In 2012 he became a Non Executive Director of Resource Futures as well as serving as the founding Chairman Resource Association for three years.
Moderated by leading environment journalist Sonja van Renssen
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