October 22, 2015
The EU Recycling rate harmonisation report found there are problems with different data capture methods for monitoring recycling rates, and with the interpretation of definitions across member states.
The European Commission itself is contributing to the confusion, with analysis of four calculation methodologies set out by the commission yielding different recycling rates with the same data sets, varying on average 8.6 percent between the highest and the lowest, Resource reported.
The research was carried out by Social, Environmental and Economics Solutions in collaboration with the University of Brighton, UK, and underlines “the opportunity to explore better ways of monitoring to support circular economy principles and reflect the latest advances in waste and resource management practices”, report author Dr. David Greenfield said. He also said materials rather than tonnage should be focused on in data capture.
Professor Jim Baird presented the report during his speech of inauguration as the President of the UK-based Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), at Glasgow City Chambers in Scotland. He pledged to make waste data a special focus of his presidency, as well as how it is turned into evidence for decision making.
He said that CIWM “has repeatedly expressed concern about the accuracy and value of comparative recycling statistics and data across Europe, and this report confirms our suspicions”.
“A measurement framework that can deliver this level of variation with the same set of data will simply not be up to the job as we move into the more ambitious territory of the circular economy.”
The Glasgow academic further commented that if the imminent circular economy package is to achieve higher targets, definitions of these calculations need “tightening up”. Baird will also use his year as President to renew efforts to tackle waste crime and to promote resource efficiency and circular economy education.
There will also be a focus on “producer responsibility”, with a report to be published on this subject later this year, with Baird calling the practice a “core building block” and emphasising the role that producers and manufacturers play in supporting collection and treatment.
CIWM represents over 7,000 waste professionals, most of whom are based in the UK, with some members overseas.
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