Defining wastes prevention in the EU: it’s more important than it looks

Promoting policies that “incentivise remanufacturing, refurbishment and repurposing of products”.

The Council of the European Union is currently reviewing the Waste Framework Directive. The working party on the Environment met on 4 September in Brussels to continue the work; a long process of arguing line by line, seeking compromises wherever possible. “Wastes prevention is the most efficient way to improve resource efficiency” is a much repeated assertion and, sure enough, it is likely to reappear in the revised Directive. Yet what can really be done to promote wastes prevention?

Our Managing Director, David Fitzsimons, has for several years attended the special interest group at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management on the issue of Wastes Prevention. And he contributes to the UN Environment working party on environmentally sound management. But often the ambitious high-level goal of wastes prevention requires knowledge of whole supply chains, and so action becomes too challenging, too difficult, too slow.

Refreshing, then, to see what the Commission is proposing. Pleasing, too, to discover the proposed adoption of definitions first drafted by colleagues at Oakdene Hollins for the Centre of Remanufacturing and Reuse. Product life extension is a key element of any wastes prevention policy and this is exactly how the Commission frames its own proposed approach. We wholeheartedly support policies that “incentivise remanufacturing, refurbishment and repurposing of products”.

Oakdene Hollins manages the Conseil Européen de Remanufacture. Through this organisation, we are bringing together ambitious companies that are creating jobs from the wastes prevention and resource efficiency agenda - IBM, Lexmark, SKF, Panalpina, Syncreon amongst them.

It might look like slow painful work in Brussels – but this is leadership. Oakdene Hollins is glad to be part of it.