When the month of November begins the mind thinks of the countdown to the Christmas holidays in two months time. But before then a really busy period is ahead, as if we are punished for taking time off over the New Year.
The European Group met on November 3rd with the European Commission in Brussels and with the participation of many of the other European associations. This is an important signal. Why? Because one of the obstacles, in my humble opinion, to our industry obtaining a positive and wished for result on the new Circular Economy package, is our fragmentation into a myriad of associations representing the waste industry in Brussels.
Whereas the UK has gone towards a united approach, joining CIWM (public) and ESA (private) in common platforms, most other countries are still divided between companies that are public or private and therefore represented by two different European associations.
Further, whereas the large waste multinationals are all integrated in their systems, in Europe the organic waste lobby is separate from the waste to energy lobby. Yet organics increasingly produce energy from AD and logically should be looking at many of the same policy platforms as the WtE lobbyists.
And then the packaging industry has dozens of associations representing each piece, while oils, tyres, batteries, and so on are all represented by different associations.
If I were sitting in the European Commission wondering who represents the waste industry, I'd be a little confused. It reminds me of the famous saying of Henry Kissinger, "Who do I call if I want to call Europe?"
So the meeting of November 3rd was an opportunity for the principle associations to talk together about which policy priorities we wish to focus upon in the EU debate on the Circular Economy. And we need to prioritise because we fail to realise that there are significant powers lobbying strongly against the advancement of environmental legislation globally and in Europe too.
According to research I read last September, 45% of the worlds' largest 100 companies are actively taking part in, and financing, associations lobbying against a climate change agreement. And you can bet your last Euro that they will be heard on the Circular Economy debate too.
So let's unite behind some few, achievable, commonly-agreed policy objectives in the coming months and give a united front to the Commission on the Circular Economy package.
The Climate Conference also comes up in December and here the international waste industry has made a common platform as previous blogs have illustrated. It is essential that we are compact, focused and clear on our objectives going into these arenas because otherwise the waste industry will be forgotten and the debate will, as too often, centre around oil, renewables, coal, gas, solar power, and not about materials recovery and waste to energy and the enormous benefits this has for the climate, public health and urban liveability.
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