Hopeful prospects for a sustainable future

A concrete European action plan for the circular economy and a binding climate agreement clearly demonstrate how much effort is being made to keep our planet habitable. It’s also clear that waste management companies have an active role to play in this process, particularly in the transition to a circular economy. The end of the year is a time to reflect on what has been achieved and look to the future.

 

Europe for the Circular Economy

At the beginning of December, the European Commission presented its action plan to stimulate Europe’s transition to a circular economy. The plan aims to close the materials chain through more sustainable production and consumption, recycling and re-use. It details targets and measures for the whole cycle, from production and consumption to waste management and remarketing of secondary raw materials. As the amount of waste products dumped will have to be severely reduced, recycling and waste-to-energy will have an opportunity to grow further for optimum recovery of materials and energy. This is an important step towards the realisation of a circular economy.

Sharing Know-How

In issuing this design guideline, the EU has, for the first time, formulated clear goals for the evolution of a circular economy. With regard waste management, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany are already some of the best pupils in the European class. It is no coincidence that we are particularly active in these countries and have made our own contribution. We can also support the other member states with our know-how and our ambition for growth. We are a successful European company that already manages over 5 million tons of different types of waste for our customers each year. We treat waste in specialist plants, always aiming to recover as much energy and as many products as possible in order to re-introduce them into the cycle. We built Ireland’s first waste-to-energy facility, and are planning the construction of another one, so we are helping to achieve European targets there too.

Waste is Becoming a Secondary Raw Material

The European Commission's strategy is also strongly focused on stimulating industrial symbiosis whereby waste from one company can be converted into secondary raw materials for another company's production. The products that are created from secondary raw materials must have the same high quality as products from pure and unprocessed raw materials. This is an essential element for the achievement of a sustainable circular economy. Thanks to our expertise and close collaboration with a great number of companies, Indaver is an excellent partner for the creation of a sustainable circular economy. Through our own Molecule Management, we recover components from chemical waste at a molecular level in order that they can be reused.

Guardian of the Materials Chain

It is precisely because materials will be reused that it is essential to safeguard the integrity of the materials cycle. Indaver has a key role to play as guardian of a pure materials chain. Using thermal treatment with energy-recovery for steam and steam production (waste-to-energy), we destroy or isolate undesirable and dangerous substances from waste streams, or we store them safely. As a result, these substances cannot re-enter the materials or food chain. Furthermore we strive for maximum recovery of materials and energy.

Ambitious Climate Agreement

In the run up to Paris almost all participating countries submitted a plan to reduce emissions. The European Union itself has promised to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 percent, to get 27 percent of the energy used from renewable sources and to live 27 percent more energy-efficiently by 2030. At the end of 2015 the world is capable of presenting an ambitious and binding climate agreement that can and must safeguard our future by drastically reducing CO2 and keeping global warming below 2 and preferably 1.5 °C. If we wish to keep the earth habitable, we have to adjust almost every element of our lives. Waste management is one of these vital elements. 

Key Role for Waste Companies

Waste treatment companies such as Indaver have a key role to play in realising a sustainable circular economy and achieving these ambitious climate targets. The management of products at the end of their life will always be important, in particular if we want to turn them back into valuable raw materials. We must gear our business models to the needs of the customer in the circular economy. We can't expect the circular economy to be there tomorrow. But the developments at the end of 2015 give us hope that if we remain committed to sustainability and if we as a society are committed to putting ambitious quantitative and qualitative targets first, we will be successful.

We are therefore hopeful as we look forward with you to 2016 and the future.

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