Do you know what waste management approaches applied in the EU should soon be working in Ukraine?
The European Union practice
The key steps classified according to their desirability and environmental friendliness are reflected in the waste hierarchy contained in the EU Waste Directive of November 19, 2008, which looks like this:
2. Preparation for reuse.
4. Other utilization (e.g. energy recovery).
Why this sequence of steps is important? The more efficient the first three steps of waste management are, the less waste will be incinerated and landfilled. Therefore, the waste management policy of the state in general and of individual settlements should cover evenly all stages instead of focusing on the last stage.
The role of harmful consumeristic habit
Today, very few people are thinking about how much waste we produce every day and what happens to it after we throw it away. Sadly, people think even less about how the amount of waste can be reduced, although such steps do not require large financial or time investments. The only thing that is needed is to think more about our behavior and consumeristic habits.
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It is reported that at present about 95% of waste gets to landfills and thus contaminates water, soil, air and harms our health. Landfills continue to capture larger and larger areas. In its turn garbage captures more and more of the living space of people. However, these are people who are the main cause of generation of this waste.Therefore, one of the main tasks faced by conscious citizens and business is to reduce the amount of waste that gets to landfills. The European experience tells us to prevent waste generation!
Prevention of waste generation is the simplest and most desirable way of waste management and it is the first step in the waste management hierarchy. According to the EU Waste Directive, prevention of waste generation can be done in the following ways:
– reducing the amount of waste;
– reducing the adverse effects of waste on the environment and human health;
– reducing the content of harmful substances in materials and products.
The said Directive requires from the states to develop and adopt National Waste Prevention Programs, which should contain waste prevention objectives, prevention measures, their quantitative and qualitative criteria.
Prevention – above all!
Ukraine has adopted the National Waste Management Strategy until 2030. It provides for specific measures to prevent waste generation. To this end, it is planned to establish a network of centers for the introduction of cleaner production (technologies) to minimize the amount of waste generation, to adopt regulations on the introduction of eco-design of consumption goods, which will last longer and will be more adapted to reuse or utilization, including through processing, reduction of the use of primary raw materials. Also, the state may introduce economic mechanisms that will stimulate the reduction of the amount of generated waste. These can be, for example, a tax or a ban on the production of polyethylene bags, plastic disposable containers and dishes, or preferences to producers of environmentally friendly packaging for consumer goods, or – financial support for innovative developments in the area of packaging product design etc.
Business, communities and citizens
However, without waiting for decisive actions on behalf of the state, citizens and businesses can take measures themselves in order to save resources, reuse things, reduce consumption, etc. For example, local communities can actively work towards developing strategies and plans for preventing waste generation, to bring eco-conscious businesses to work in this direction.
Unless business entities begin to think about it, the human choice of products and services will depend only on the environmental consciousness of consumers. In particular, they may prefer products in glass and other containers that are recyclable or reusable, not to use disposable plastic bags for any goods, but to use paper bags, eco-bags, buy rechargeable batteries, donate old equipment to people who need it and can still use it, and so on.
Therefore, we all should take care of successful prevention of waste generation: from a specific person to an official in the capital and the director of a plant. All Ukrainians now need to make this first step and begin to manage their waste at the first stage in order to make Ukraine cleaner and Ukrainians healthier.
Olha Melen’-Zabramna, head of EPL legal unit
+380 32 225 76 82