The increase of land-filling fees will help fuel the recycling business

Europe needs to develop a recycled materials market. Both the European Union and national states must do their share of work by awareness raising, pushing to minimize land-filling or by encouraging the use of recycled materials, agreed the participants of the International Round Table on the Circular Economy organized by the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic in cooperation with BusinessEurope at the Brno International Engineering Fair.

The European Circular Economy Package approved this spring calls on the Czech Republic to modernize the technological basis of the whole waste management. For example, in the case of recycling, the return on the necessary investments will be achieved in many cases only when a robust market for recycled materials is created, agreed the participants of the International Round Table on the Circular Economy organized by the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic in cooperation with the European organisation BusinessEurope at the Brno International Engineering Fair attended by representatives from Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia and key stakeholders from the EC and the Czech Republic.

One of the major measures successfully tested in the neighbouring countries was to limit the land-filling of materials that can be recycled or used otherwise, for example, as a source of energy. The Czech Confederation of Industry sees landfills as an obsolete way of managing waste. Valuable materials and energy are wasted that way. In the Netherlands, for example, the transition to circular economy will mean a primary raw materials savings of €7.3 billion per year. The new business will support the creation of 54,000 new jobs, as the round table discussion stated. In Poland thanks to the home-grown system of aluminum beverage cans collection and recycling the current recycling level of aluminum cans has reached 80%. It is achieved through both private and voluntary-based collection systems.

"In the field of municipal waste, the recycling industry practically does not exist. We also see a business opportunity for domestic companies in the circular economy. Therefore, the relevant legislation, which would create the appropriate investment environment in this area, should be prepared as soon as possible and in the best possible quality. Thus, we support the proposal of the Ministry of the Environment to increase the land-filling fees," says Petr Jonák, a member of the Board of the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic.

The Slovak government wants to increase the land-filling fees, too. In Austria, no untreated municipal waste has been deposited in the landfills for several years now. "How to make the recycled materials market operational? Minimizing land-filling is one of the measures. There are better ways to use waste. The European Commission and national governments can facilitate the creation of the circular economy market by raising public and corporate awareness, improving access to finance, and providing companies with appropriate incentives," mentions Leon de Graaf from BusinessEurope as an example of European experience.

The government should also help the recycling industry with other steps. "Recycling business needs buyers of recycled material. The state should stimulate the recycled materials market, e.g. with tax incentives or support programs for the use of products containing recycled materials," says Michal Stieber of Veolia Czech Republic.

New rules approved by the Member States at the level of the European Union will be essential for the Czech Republic. "Circular economy is a priority for the European Commission. Requirements for greater product repairability, re-usability and recyclability of materials are already reflected in the EcoDesign rules. States should also support the market for recycled materials in their public procurement system," explains Hugo Schally, a representative of the Directorate-General for the Environment of the European Commission. Best practice examples from European countries show that all stakeholders, as well as educational, training and innovation activities, need to be involved in meeting the objectives of the circular economy.

Waste Management plays a central role in developing a circular Economy but focus also needs to be put on product design, efficient production processes, new business models and change in consumer behaviour based on transparent information. For example, currently only 9% of the materials and resources used in the Austrian economy and industry are circular.

In order to ensure a (self-)sufficient supply of raw materials in the future, to meet the increasing demand for products, we need a radical change in the way we handle raw materials and waste. Cooperation at all levels (e.g. public-private, cross sectoral, value chains) is the key, shared his experience Hans Van Ek from Holland Circular Hotspot.

The Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic is already working on transposing EU objectives and rules into domestic law. "This year, the Ministry of Environment will present proposals for a new Waste Act, the End-of -Life Products Act, and an amendment to the Packaging Act. They will become effective as of July 2020 ," says Jan Maršák from the Ministry of the Environment.

The Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic has been focused on waste legislation for a long time and supports a modern circular economy with a gradual reduction of land-filling. Prevention of waste generation or its economically meaningful use is a priority of the Confederation and its members. The Confederation has consistently adhered to the principles of the circular economy and supports the meaningful adjustment of the legislative framework. This should be in line with the waste management hierarchy and at the same time be in line with the real possibilities of the Czech economy.

Tereza Řezníčková
section Aktuálně