Time for to Make Polluter Pays Principle Legally Binding

ISWA BLOG: Time to Get Tough with Corporations Over Circular Economy & EPR

David Newman, ISWA President calls for governments around the world to get tough on major companies over Extended Producer Responsibility.

david newman, iswa blog Opinion blog David Newman
Image © Clean Environment Summit,

David Newman, ISWA President calls for governments around the world to get tough on major companies over Extended Producer Responsibility.

 

My visit to the Clean Environment Summit Singapore last week was my last as President of ISWA, and I wish to publicly thank our friends at WMRAS and the National Environment Agency for their hospitality and friendship in these last ten years.

Together we have built the foundations of a training centre, including a course this week on hazardous waste, and the Singaporeans have developed a business oriented network on waste into neighbouring countries.

The discussion around Circular Economy dominated the proceedings and I fear this is a bit lop - sided. For sure the process of greater circularity in developed nations is inevitable. But what about the developing world where waste circularity is a mirage? There the conversation is simply about collection. Simple. 

I enjoyed immensely the talk by ex EU Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocnik who said such change is inevitable. And I totally agree with his statement that opposition to Circular Economy comes from those corporations (such as the large consumer goods manufacturers) who think they will only have costs but do not see the benefits and the risk reduction from such policies.

Those of you who heard me speak late last year will remember my question: how many of you are in favour of the Circular Economy? (almost everyone in our meetings) and my showing how many corporations are actually lobbying against it. And what powerful opposition there is.

Now is the Time!
Mr Potocnik underlined this: corporations ask for legislative certainty, then oppose the legislation if they think their interests may be harmed. There is a lot of hypocrisy out there, and to hear an analysis saying certain major corporations “are ready for a discussion on EPR" just makes my blood boil.

Ready now? Where were they in the last twenty years? Why are they opposing every EPR legislation proposed everywhere, including the US? Why do they not take any responsibility for the environmental damage their products are creating?

Hearing a presentation from a very balanced Asian representative of IKEA was also upsetting. She hailed a plastics recycling pilot project IKEA has undertaken, and closed. What is IKEA waiting for to do a real recycling programme? Why the pilot? Who needs a damned pilot? We need large scale, community wide projects, and companies like IKEA are perfectly placed to do this. What the hell are they waiting for? A Circular Economy law which may be approved in five years time?

It is time for the waste industry to seriously pressure governments worldwide to make the Polluters Pay Principle a legally binding obligation. The real disruptive article in the EU Circular Economy package says that EPR schemes should cover the full (repeat, the full) costs of recovering the relative waste stream. This is a revolution, and we must strongly support it. 

So far, we are paying lip service to the PPP and meanwhile hundreds of millions of tonnes of waste go into our environment every year. Shame on the opposition to EPR and CE. 

David Newman

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