The following is an effort to “translate” in English an excellent text written by the Greek writer Mirto Georgiou – Nielsen who has wrote the beautiful book “The art to be parent” (ISBN: 9789600333923). The text below is an excerpt from that book.
“ …If life is a chain formulated by all human beings that have lived on Earth, we should imagine every new generation as a link that is added to the infinite track of links that already do exist… Every generation is a new link: first our parents, then we ourselves, after our children and later on our grandchildren. Every new link (we hope to be) more strong, more functional and we wish to be more beautiful.
If life on this Earth is an ocean, every new generation is like one of those infinite waves that are coming from the roots of time, one after another, to crash onto the coastlines. Every new generation is just one more wave, consisted of all living human beings and everyone is just a small droplet within the wave.
Some droplets bring a shingle from the sea bed, some other droplets may bring a shell to put it on the beach and make it more beautiful and some bring nothing.
One shingle, as an example, was left by Socrates, another shell from Shakespeare, a third one by Beethoven or Confucius and it goes on forever. And all those shingles and shells together formulate the current view of our common beach.
Most people in contrast, after having their own route within the wave, they arrive almost empty at the beach, they shine for a while under the sun and then sink in the sand.
The wave before them just yawned their way and their wave in turn just yawns the way for the next wave - generation. First ourselves, the parents, then the children and afterwards the children of our children…
Every new wave is a new generation, braver, more dynamic and hopefully wiser from the previous one…”
Happy 2009 to everybody
Yes maybe we do or maybe we don't have a climate change agenda that needs to be addressed but to address that does come at a cost. So should we as is being required by the EU and the member states borrow money from the banks that either don't have any or are reluctant to lend us money and then find that we don't have the resources to pay it back.
Me (cynic) of simple mind just sees this as creating further financial turmoil over what has yet to be conclusively proven to be a problem. Clearly the deeper we go into financial crisis the greater the chance that we won't be able to achieve carbon reductions in any event so just let us all hope that someone somewhere can see the reality that we are all faced with and sit back and put their requirements into the context of the real world that we all live in.
Festive greetings to all your readers.
It was the 16th of October in this same old blog as we all expected to find some hope in the upcoming UN summit for the cutting down of the C02 emissions (25 – 40% till 2020). And yet it happened in Poznan of Poland on Saturday the 13th (http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_14/items/4481.php). Everything declared last time in Bali Indonesia (http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_13/items/4049.php) is forgotten. The alibi of the 27 of the so called “European Union” decided that, the financial crisis we are facing doesn’t allow at this point any other agreement, than achieving a 20% increase of the clear energy production.
Being about to steam myself, recalling one of the first principles to follow in Aikido martial art: “don’t get angry, the one who does, resigns first”, I thought of Antonis’ blog. It’s not a solution, but it helps and doesn’t even cause any stomach trouble.
I’m questioning myself, where do leaders hide nowadays and how come these world leaders don’t check that they are not even capable to count the costs, they are referring to. I mean, the crisis they are preaching, moralizing their inaction, is not the crisis we are comfronting. The world they think they are living in, is, like N. N. Taleb said about the black swan, different than the world they are living in.
The “cost of inaction” is enormous in front of the “cost of adoption” (reports.eea.europa.eu/technical_report_2007_13/en/Tech_report_13_2007.pdf -).
Not getting angry, still hoping they will recalculate the costs they are referring to, I’m staying sitted in my small Attorneys office a week before Christmas.
Happy holidays. Think of the (r)evolution on Dec. 2009 again.
A first comment about the facts: a “Rambo” type cop killed a 15 years old boy. The impunity of police violence in Greece is deeply at the roots of that murder. In the very center of Athens, a big part of cops are used to behave as they are above any law and control, especially against emigrants. It was just a matter of time to have such an event and in a way it is like the Ancient Greek Tragedies. The killer and the victim could be anyone, randomly chosen by Faith. But the Tragedy remains the same in any randomly selected pair of persons: it is the collapse of the “state” and “the rule of the law” concepts in Greek society.
What comes next? As Helena Smith wrote in Guardian “Within an hour of the boy's death thousands of protesters had gathered in Exarchia's lawless central square screaming, 'cops, pigs, murderers,' and wanting revenge. At first, it is true, the assortment of self-styled anarchists who have long colonized Exarchia piggy-backed on the tragedy, seeing it as the perfect opportunity to live out their nihilistic goals of wreaking havoc. But then middle-class kids - children had got good degrees at universities in Britain but back in Greece were unable to find work in a system that thrives on graft, cronyism and nepotism - joined the protests and very quickly it became glaringly clear that this was their moment, too. Theirs was a frustration not only born of pent-up anger but outrage at the way ministers in the scandal-tainted conservative government have also enriched themselves in their five short years in power.”
And this is exactly the problem. In order to understand what is happening now in Greece we have to use the famous “fire-triangle”. What do we need to have a fire? Ignition, fuel and air (oxygen). The murder was just the ignition. Let’s discuss about fuel and oxygen.
Let’s start with the fuel which is permanently accumulated in our society.
Just few years after the 2004 glamorous and costly Olympic Games, Greece is in an orbit of decadence. For the last 10 years we are just watching ministers to create one scandal after another. Corruption and public money mulcting have become a rule. And it is ridiculous to watch politicians to sentence the pillage that took place during the riots when you know that their own loot with public money and their impunity provide the background for it.
The country has learned to live with bailouts from all around. And what we just do is to pass our debts to the next generations. They are going to have to pay that money back and they have started to understand it.
The current government is swimming in a big pool of scandals for the last 12 months at least. It seems that there is no other plan than to stay on power. The opposition parties do not provide an alternative plan, although they say a lot about certain dimensions of our life. The political discussion, which typically is a major interest for a lot of Greeks seems too boring and with absolutely no interest. There is no long-term plan or vision for our society.
We must have done something very wrong. We have nothing to propose and the result is that we have abstracted from the new generations even their right to disagree with what we propose.
At the same time, our youth is suffering from one of the worst educational systems in Europe and high unemployment rates (70 % among the 18-25s) in a country where joblessness this month jumped to 7.4 per cent. If they can find work remuneration rarely rises above €800 (this is, after all, the self-styled €700 generation), never mind the number of qualifications it took to get the job. Often polyglot PhD holders will be serving tourists at tables in resorts. One in five Greeks lives beneath the poverty line and the future seems so empty in all terms. That was the situation until few months before and the fuel was already there.
But for the last months, new and more flammable materials were added and the new conditions made the fuel more explosive. Middle-class meltdown has started to produce social results that cannot be hidden anymore. The global financial crisis made the situation even worst creating a sense of a no-way out and no hope. The urgency feeling “to do something” has started to upgrade as a mass emotion, even if no one had something concrete to propose.
It is a kind of Crash onto a Wall what we face this period. Nick Fraser explained this very well at Observer. “Aghast, I experienced something of the same sense of recognition after the planes hit the tall buildings, appearing to usher in a new century. But the New Crash (I can't think of another, more suitable term) is both larger and harder to understand. It was possible before October to register the existence of current ills - the already degraded environment, mass murder once again perpetrated for ideological reasons, feckless liberal responses to poverty, wars fought for the dumbest reasons - while remaining at some distance from them. You could hope, somehow, that things wouldn't be as bad as they seemed. … Now something quite significant, and perhaps irreversible, appears to have happened”.
Now let’s speak about the oxygen, the constituent that keeps the fire burning.
First, it is obvious that we are witnesses of a very angry and totally blind mass movement of youth, probably the most independent and spontaneous that had happened ever in Greece. The crisis gets worst, even if the riots will stop for the Christmas, because there is a great democracy gap: no political formation can represent those young people.
Second, the government has a lethal shot from the riots. Up to now it was obvious that we had an incapable government but now it is clear that its incapability has became dangerous too. So the feeling of uncontrollability will keep the fire burning.
Third, the murderer and his advocate have said no word of mercy and no “sorry” for what happened; in fact their statements are quite at the opposite direction – that will provide more reasons to revolt.
Fourth, emigrants do participate in this movement as well because they have suffered a lot from police and they have found a way to cover some of their needs through pillage, although they have not started the riots.
So for me it is obvious that the flames may die down but the coals will simmer.
What can we do about it? Is it a no way out situation?
My opinion is that there are things to do and the first is to cut all the bullshits about “professional anarchists that created the riots” and to understand the deeper social messages carried out from this arousal. The more we stack on the wrong explanation the more the danger we face. By the way the already mentioned wrong explanation provides the best way to get rid of our responsibilities, probably not by luck.
The second is to use the shock that has been in our society as a mean to change direction. To highlight that we cannot afford waiting for the next crisis, which is going to be even worse, unless we do something? To create a new vision for the country, the middle and the working class, a cohesive and hopeful plan for the future that will spot light at the end of the tunnel.
And third, it is obvious that the current political entities are almost clinically dead, even if they are still in life biologically. A new political entity that will arise from their ashes and/ or the transformation of them is more necessary than ever. The constituents for this entity are already here, but the leadership and the glue to join the constituents are missing.
I hope that the current crisis will help to find them.
New research has concluded that 'Pay As You Throw' waste collection schemes can increase levels of recycling among households, but should be accompanied by effective public information campaigns.
Pay As You Throw waste schemes charge households and businesses according to the amount of mixed residual waste they generate. They have been proposed as an effective means of reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, thus helping local authorities meet the requirements of the EU Landfill Directive.
The study, conducted under the EU-funded PAYT (Pay As You Throw) project2, covered 157 local authority areas in the Czech Republic, with a total population of 2.6 million. All authorities were free to choose their method of charging for the collection of general waste in their area. Of these, 92 operated a Pay As You Throw system, and 65 operated a flat fee approach. The level of recycling among the first group was 12.1 per cent. This was almost double that of the second group's recycling rate of 6.9 per cent. The amount of mixed residual waste generated in the Pay As You Throw areas was on average 240 kg per head annually, compared with 260kg in the areas charging a flat fee.
The researchers believe that a fixed flat fee does not encourage households to separate waste or reduce the volume of mixed residual waste. They believe that although Pay As You Throw models incur a higher initial cost to the authority, they encourage a higher level of separation.
The researchers also conducted a survey among householders in Prague, to assess recycling behaviour. 179 households in 17 districts of Prague were surveyed, and of these, 138 households separated their waste. These households also produced significantly less residual waste - 635 litres annually, compared with 712 litres from non-separating households.
Possible factors were identified which influence separating and recycling behaviour. These included technical factors such as conditions in the house for waste separation (e.g. the size of the kitchen), social factors such as the availability of information, and political factors, for example, whether the waste management strategy corresponded with national legislation. The most important factors were found to be technical, namely the availability of regularly emptied containers in the community for placing recycled waste and the ease of recycling in the home. Households were less influenced by the cost of the service, as the price paid for waste treatment is relatively low (1.7 Euros per household member per month), and this fee was often hidden in total rent costs.
The level of awareness of methods for separating waste was also important, as was the degree to which the waste management strategy was perceived to be in line with national legislation. The extent to which recycled waste was used as a secondary raw material was also a strong factor.
This study was conducted as part of the EU PAYT (Pay As You Throw) project, supported by the European Commission under the Fifth Framework Programme, under the priority 'Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development'.
The paper was supported by the Czech grant GACR No.402/06/0806
Source: Sauer, P., Parízková, L. and Hadrabová, A. (2008). Charging systems for municipal solid waste: Experience from the Czech Republic. Waste Management. 28(12): 2772-2777.
"Dear Antonis I think both Greg and Andrew make some very good points but I do just have one comment with respect to Andrew's observations.
He quite rightly points out that we have to consider these issues in the global context but then considers Europe specifically and the impact that the global economic downturn may have on landfill diversion targets.
I am not as pessimistic here as Andrew would appear as landfill diversion is more about the reduction of biodegradable waste going to landfill than it is about other recyclable materials. The diversion of biodegradable matter should not feel the impact of the decline in the global recycling market. Composting has a very local market place and perhaps could accommodate some of the wastepaper looking for a home. It might need some changes to the current composting /anaerobic digestion activities but it might ease the pressure on wastepaper recycling.
I recognise that my suggestion does not give any answers for the recycling of metals and plastics and only scratches the surface for paper and card we should not forget that recycling is not just about the commodities that find their way to China for recycling."
Be mindful of the opportunities to both buyers and sellers when prices are subject to near-term volatility and your materials /products can sometimes afford to move on a different supply chain.
Calling for protective price controls for one business sector is not the way forward, history tells us. Where transportation and labor costs are significant portions, controls can be like grabbing a tiger by the tail."
Andrew Kouskouris, Chair of the Greek FEAD (PASEPPE) wrote:
As we all know we have a significant decline in demand of commodities and prices too for recyclates.
This is so important that could have potential consequences for the targets have been set up in EU for recycling as well as landfill diversion.
Another thing is that public confidence would be reduced.
In WFD which recently was published and is referred that supports the use of recycling (paper , metals, plastic ) ,has been now threatened by global financial crisis with reduced or not at all demand for those basic recyclates.
Metals also will have significant consequences in end-of-life vehicles
We have to know both private and public bodies if we have to continue collecting the above mentioned recyclates which it is economically unviable and threats to jobs in the recycling industry.
I think that we have to work in Global as well in EU cooperation for what has to be done (possibly financial or other kind of help) to the sector of recycling to continue to trade in this difficult period, also I would suggest closely monitoring that phenomenon nationally in cooperation of public bodies and private sector.
E-mail: email@example.com://www.paseppe.gr "
Stuart Foster, of Recoup UK, which advises on plastic recycling, said that mixed plastics had slumped from about £200 a tone to the point of worthlessness in only four weeks. He was confident, however, that the low value would be temporary as at least three mixed-plastic facilities will open next year, reducing the nation's dependence on Chinese demand.
Decrease of prices seems to be uniform in all kinds of recyclables. Although there are some predictions that this will not be a permanent situation, in any case the current market conditions create a heavy burden for recycling activities.
As Lewis Smith wrote at TIMES (6-11-2008) “Thousands of tones of rubbish collected from household recycling bins may have to be stored in warehouses and former military bases to save them from being dumped after a collapse in prices.
Collection companies and councils are running out of space to store paper, plastic bottles and steel cans because prices are so low that the materials cannot be shifted. Collections of mixed plastics, mixed paper and steel reached record levels in the summer but the “bottom fell out of the market” and they are now worthless. The plunge in prices was caused by a sudden fall in demand for recycled materials, especially from China, as manufacturers reduced their output in line with the global economic downturn.
Local authorities and collection companies are so concerned about the mountains of paper, plastic bottles and cans that they have to store that they have called for storage regulations to be eased.”
The threat of landfilling recycled materials is realized in some cases as in California. The California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) is pledging to work with California cities and counties, as well as the many recyclers, brokers, and processors who are trying to cope with the rapid decline in commodity prices for recycled paper, metals and plastic goods.
CIWMB staff are monitoring market trends and prices and examining regulatory and non-regulatory options to keep these materials from being disposed. The CIWMB will hold a special public meeting in Sacramento in early December to explore measures it can enact to ease the current situation. The Board will hear from brokers and others about possible short-term and long-term solutions.
"We're aware of the potential dilemma facing our state's recycling infrastructure," said Board Chair Margo Reid Brown. "We cannot undo the incredible progress our local cities and counties have done to reduce our waste in landfills. By working together, I'm confident we can develop short-term measures that will get us through these challenging times, while ensuring we remain true to our overall environmental goals."
Now let’s move to the famous “de-couple” approach. We are all familiar with the concept of de-coupling growth of economy from waste production. In practical terms, the de-couple approach says that we do not want to put economic growth in a risk but we must try to make it more sustainable.
The EU approach has gone further determining that in order to success on that approach we have to decouple the following:
· Economic growth from resource use (having more growth for less resource use or more products per resource units)
· Environmental impacts from resource use (having less impacts for more growth or less impacts per product units)
Obviously for both the previous requirements the use of recycling materials is a key- element.
But how this fundamental role of recycling can be fulfilled when the use of recycled materials is coupled with their prices?
How can we de-couple growth from resource use when we keep the use of recyclables coupled with the market conditions and market conditions (even temporarily) push to more resource use?
How can de-couple the environmental impacts from resource use when the market conditions will determine if the supply chain of a product will include recyclables or not?
Let’s think again about the market fluctuations and their economical, environmental and long-term impacts in our industry. Maybe we have to regulate recycling prices in order to promote the use of recyclables. Or maybe we have to forget de-couple as a concept.
In any case, this is the time to think about it in all levels. Any opinion is welcomed…
When I wrote about the financial crisis last October 6th, I made some predictions about how the situation would unfold.
Sadly many of those predictions have already come true.
1. Credit will dry up forcing banks and then companies into liquidation as consumers stop spending.
2. Unemployment will rise fast as companies slow production and fire staff.
3. Economies based on exports of raw materials will suffer particularly as the prices of these fall.
This third prediction is one I am quite proud of as no-one much forsaw oil and food prices falling so fast, leading to economies like Russia, Argentina, and the arab oil economies to slash spending.
What now ?
Every cloud has a silver lining.
A) third world and developing economies are going to benefit from rapidly falling import costs- fuel, food and western technologies will all cost much less. Africa may enter a period of faster growth.
B) inflation is falling fast leading to a cut in interest rates, making it less expensive to finance loans, mortgages, investments.
C) useless and technologically obsolete industries will die. It's goodbye to GM, Chrysler and Ford as we know them. It may even be the beginning of the end for IBM, MS and god forbid Google, Yahoo etc., as newer, leaner companies enter their markets and with lower costs take away their business.
D) the very rich just got poorer. That's no bad thing. It closes the gap a little and ridimensions their arrogance. It opens international fora to developing countries like Brazil, India, southern Asia, which have their financial houses in order and can now raise a stronger voice in fora like the IMF, WB, WTO.
E) the future of the liberalised, globalised, free economy is history.
Politics is back in place as the just governor of international trade rules and financial market rules.
I haven't yet mentioned the effect of a new US President. Personally I am not as optimistic as some. He is as much servant as leader given the powers which elect a President; for sure the outcome gave us the best result but let us not be euphoric until we start to see him in action. COP 15 will be one of those occasions.
We have, as I said in October, two harsh years ahead and the data coming out show this to be probable. But as prices in shares, housing, property, commodities fall, so will the capacity of more people to buy them increase. A point will come within 2009 when we hit bottom. The rebound in 2010 could be very fast indeed.
Hold on for a bumpy ride !
In Chinese language crisis and opportunity are symbolized by the same ideogram. What a perfect symbolism for the current financial crisis which will definitely strengthen the role of China and other emerging countries like Russia, India etc. Of course you need not to learn Chinese in order to understand that “sepsis (biological degradation) is the kingdom of creation” as Carl Marx mentioned 150 years ago.
I recall this phrase in order to outline that the current crisis is not a temporary illness that will pass easily with some medicines, even if those medicines cost 1.5 trillions $, which means one or two orders of magnitude more than the money necessary to provide medicines worldwide for 5 years! It seems much more like a partial biological degradation of one of the pillars of the global growth last 30 years, the glamorous financial services sector. Almost no one could imagine such a collapse few years before, although there were certain economists that were speaking for a no way coming ahead, but not in that manner as far as I know.
But what was underestimated? In my opinion, speaking technically and not financially, the main failure factor that drove to a so sudden and violent collapse was the degree of complexity achieved globally. Complexity is measured by the quantity of data required to describe a certain situation and practically, due to the totally uncontrolled free movement of “toxic” funds, the interactions between different financial institutions, governments and investors became so thick and “self growing” that the data required to describe them was practically non available (even if someone wanted to get it, which is not the case obviously). As this kind of complexity was expanding around the world it created a network of “risk transfer” from one to another institution or investor and finally the loop closed and this network was transformed in a global rope.
And this should be considered as key – message #1: in the era of globalization the complexity of our world becomes so high that leads to unpredictable results rapidly. This is not something new for everyone who is involved in environmental issues. We all know very well that climate change problem is a result of complex global interactions that gradually created an almost unpredictable result. And our main problem regarding climate change is that we are not yet in a position to coordinate globally actions against climate change because the environmental problems are still faced on a national basis, ignoring their global effects and complexity.
Key – message # 2: The governments globally found out a way to coordinate in order to prevent the collapse of the financial system. And although it is not an easy task they will finally manage it, one way or another, sooner or later. That means that global cooperation against common threats is possible even today, with the current level of globalization and international cooperation tools. We should grab this as an opportunity to outline that global cooperation is possible for environmental problems as well, first of all for the fight against climate change. We should highlight that if global action and intergovernmental coordination have already realized in order to save the financial sector they could be also realized to save the planet as well as the almost one billion hungry people of it (with much less cost by the way).
If the USA government found a way to inject markets with a trillion $ for the banks, how to hell is it incapable to finance with 50 billions $ the social health program? If the Greek government found 5 billions € available to finance banks with difficulties how to hell is it incapable to close the dumpsites in the country? I am sure you know the answer. It is simply a matter of priorities. And as the current crisis is clearly shown us priorities in our world have to be set again. That is a great field for environmental and humanitarian NGOs and ISWA should utilize it as much as possible.
There is also another Key-message (#3) from the current crisis. The golden boys that shoot our heads with “easy profits with almost no work” are for the time being “dead men walking”. And we must act in order to finish with their fake values too. It is now obvious that the paranoia for “profitability with any risk” led the world to this crisis. The same paranoia created a totally wrong view of the hard working people and pushed golden boys in top positions in a lot of companies. If there is a lesson from this crisis it is a simple and old one: there is no free lunch out there, even if you are the top investment bank in the world.
Now let’s move to the impacts to Solid Waste management industry. Obviously we can recognize some major changes for the near future:
Funds for new waste management infrastructure will be less available and more difficult to “pump” them.
Capital will be much more expensive and risks (which are always high for waste management projects) should be evaluated and priced higher.
Those two points will certainly create problems in the implementation and preparation of major Public – Private Partnership projects.
As it is obvious from the 20-10-2008 announcement of Veolia (http://www.euro2day.gr/ftcom_en/126/articles/385711/ArticleFTen.aspx) new investments will be reduced and profitability will be considered more risky even for multinational giants.
I think that we can also assume a strengthening of the already existing consolidation wave to SWM industry for the next 2-3 years.
One more obvious remark is that uncertainty is going higher in all levels, thus the business environment will become more conservative in any case.
As everyone is predicting safely consumption patterns will be modified. Certainly consumption will be reduced and waste will be less, thus operators will have less waste to handle and thousands of jobs will be lost.
Less obvious is that waste composition will change as well. Let’s have a look at what Tamar Lewin wrote in New York Times (19-10-2008) for the upcoming crisis era:
“Buying patterns too, can be predicted in economic downturns, according to Leo J. Shapiro, who has tracked consumer behavior since he was a young man in the late 1930s. “DURING a recession, laxatives go up, because people are under tremendous stress, and holding themselves back,” said Mr. Shapiro, now chief executive of SAGE, a Chicago-based consulting firm. “During a boom, deodorant sales go up, because people are out dancing around. When people have less money, they buy more of the things that have less water in them, things that are not so perishable. Instead of lettuce and steak and fruit, it’s rice and beans and grain and pasta. Except this time the price of pasta’s so high that it’s beans and rice.” A recent Nielsen report listed tobacco, carbonated drinks and eggs as especially vulnerable to recession, and candy, beer and pasta sauce as recession-proof.”
A last but not least comment about recyclables is necessary. Extraction of raw materials will be less due to reduced consumption. Their prices will go down as well (they have already been pushed down by 25-30% for some materials like cooper or aluminum). Thus recycling will be more difficult because recyclable materials will be less competitive to raw ones. This is my feeling and I hope it is going to be a wrong one.
Let’s summarize the expected impacts.
Less funds available for infrastructure. Impact High for developed countries – medium for the rest
More expensive capital and risks – reduced bankability. Impact High for all PPPs
More consolidations. Impact High to medium
Less waste – less jobs in SWM industry. Impact High for industry “giants” – medium for the rest
Changes to SW composition. It sounds logical but no impact estimation can be done
Less extraction of raw materials. Impact Medium
Less recycling. Impact Medium to low (I hope)
“Polluter pays, speculator pays
In the upcoming World finance meeting and according to the declarations of Nicolas Sarkozi, a new compromise solution has to be found in order to get consensus for the climate protection aims (http://www.faz.net/s/RubEC1ACFE1EE274C81BCD3621EF555C83C/Doc~E6F7654340A55456BAD032FEB4EB3CFB1~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html).
That should happen before January. Italy’s Prime Minister Berlusconi demanded already a suspension of the treaty’s (cut down C02 emissions) provisions. At the same time Poland, together with other five EU members, incl. Greece (!) are threatening with a veto. (http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE4922NT20081003).
Under these circumstances the Solid Waste Industry, just like any environmental business will be politically directly affected. Indirectly, financially the impacts may stay for the next years because of the global financial crisis.
The main proof -at the time being- of the global hierarchy of environmental issues can be seeing on the comparison between the global reactions after the climate crisis (Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), published in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)) and the present reactions after the economic crisis.
Nothing binding in the first case, globally bound in the second. Not a penny in the first case, billions of dollars in the second. Money versus Climate at it’s best!
What really matters now is the exploitation of the unfortunate (?) turn of the economy, and the reconsideration/combination of the decision making and the enforcement of some main environmental issues. The global community has to be convinced, that the solution tunnel out of the crisis leads to the environmental management. The taxation of the natural resources, the reduction in employment taxation has to be taken under consideration.
It is a time of change and that was already foreseeing. The door to a Meta-industrial period is viciously opened, in accurate accordance to the vicious environment where it roots. A new chance for environmental policies is born. Though, next to the enforcement of the “polluter pays” principal, a frame of “speculator pays” liability has to be met
III International Conference on Municipal Waste:“THE EUROPEAN RECYCLING SOCIETY FROM THE NEW WASTE FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE”
With the recently approved new Waste Framework Directive as a backdrop, the Conference will raise the key elements like the application of the waste hierarchy, the prevention programmes, the reuse and recycling targets, the biowaste, the energy efficiency and recovery concepts, by-products versus wastes, and the extended producer responsibility.
With the aim of gathering together all the involved actors for a deep, rigorous, and at the same time, calm and impassioned discussion on the different elements that will shape the new paradigm, the Conference becomes the perfect scenario to get first-hand information on this new Directive.
The Conference will be organized in seven Sessions and one Roundtable Discussion. Each session starts with a welcome and presentation in charge of the Chairman; later a “Keynote Speaker” will present a report on the topic of the Session; and finally there will be one panel composed of two speakers, one Portuguese and the other Spanish, where they will set out their points of view and experience on the topic of the Session.
I also accept the call for debate regarding Waste Framework Directive and I encourage evryone to write about it. I will also do the same as soon as possible.
As you will know , the revised Directive is likely to be adopted by the EU Council of environmental Ministers on 20/21 October. Following its publication in the Official journal, Member States will have two years to transpose the revised Directive into national law. The Greek government I hope will be carrying out extensive public consultation during that two year period in order to decide how best to implement it.
In addition , if you wish , we could have a debate through your excellent blog , on how the WFD would be implemented.
I hope this is helpful,
In Italy we are already working on a payment time of six months; in Sicilly famously private companies are owed over 600 million Euros by local authorities, a debt rising monthly and now growing over 18 months.
As tax revenue falls so will many business models dependent upon local governments' ability to pay. So while our services will be required, the capacity to pay for them is falling.
"It is important that we in the solid waste stick to doing what we do best, and when predicting the future, use what facts we know and make estimates based on solid assumptions. A few points to offer:
- it is a good time to encourage colleagues and employees to continue to work hard and be productive. There remains a high value for getting things done, regardless of global financial problems.
- during work slowdowns, companies and organizations often take advantage of the time to regroup, educate and train their best personnel, and take a keen look at their marketing approaches so make good value of their resources.
- the need for immediate waste collection and disposal services is very different than the need to make a retail purchase (say, shoes or cell phones). The waste industry generally has the long view with regard to purchasing equipment, servicing customers, compliance with regulations and environmental protection rules, and sustaining recycling programs.
- Those that wish for you to be nervous are winning. "
Obviously, there must be an open forum about global crisis and the future of waste management industry. I invite everyone to start it from this blog, now...
"The impact in the real economy of this year's financial meltdown will now start to make itself felt. And we are all about to be hit by an economic tsunami.
The banks can no longer finance themselves through inter bank relations. This means they are without liquidity. They will not therefore be financing companies at risk, even for solid companies ordinary day to day financing is at risk.
Vulnerable companies in all sectors are now going bust; this will escalate rapidly in the next weeks. By the year end this will have caused a significant increase in unemployment worldwide. Solid companies have frozen new investments, either for lack of bank financing or due to adverse risk factors. Export led economies are equally vulnerable as their major markets shrink. We will see unemployment rise here too leading to widespread social unrest.
Those economies that have benefited from high prices of raw materials will be particularly hit as the investments made on the assumption of increasing prices became unsustainable.
The western economies have a varied capacity to react because some of them are overleveraged already and have no further lending capacity. Others are reasonably immune because they have small domestic economies based on services. Among the first are GB, Italy, among the second Ireland, Greece, Belgium.
Our individual investments will be worth much less, or even nothing, in the short term as housing and stock markets collapse and banks fail. Many of us will lose our jobs as companies fail, governments slash spending, consumers spend less.
The power of the western economies will be significantly reduced relative to the east and middle east, awash with years of accumulated export and mineral wealth. But the key will be to what point the western economies will be able to sustain their unemployed masses before social breakdown occurs.
The measure to protect savings accounts are necessarily limited; taxpayers payments to governments being used to guarantee taxpayers savings- the mathematics doesn't work if that guarantee needs to be given over a long term.
So what to do ?
A first reaction is to go out and celebrate ! What the hell. But after the hangover we've all got some very serious thinking to do, and our collective reactions will determine for how long the depression will last.
For those of us with debts, by dramatically cutting our spending we will contribute to an economic depression; by not doing so we are ignoring the reality of our individual vulnerability and will shorten the time in which our banks close the credit lines. For those of us with savings in the banks, it's a frightening period- are they safe ? Are they hell ! But what do you do with these savings ?
Interest rates will now fall dramatically and leaving money in the bank will mean seeing its real value decline. And it is this group which will inevitably lead us slowly out of the mess as they withdraw their savings and take advantage of cheap markets to buy- property and shares mainly.
It takes a brave man to invest today but the profits from doing so in the medium term will be extraordinary. Companies have stock values so low they are give aways; fire sales of houses make some properties incredible bargains. They will reach the point of the early 1990s when to buy a house cost less than to build a new one- then is the time to buy and the whole economy will start to move again. It's two years before this happens.
Two years in which we've all got to face insecurity, fall in spending power, actual or relative poverty. A dramatic response to a decade of over spending fuelled by cheap money and sheer greed.
One bright note: economic decline will mean the use of less resources and may actually benefit the environment. Take some comfort from that if you can !
October 6th, 2008"
The impact in the real economy of this year's financial meltdown will now
start to make itself felt. And we are all about to be hit by an economic
The banks can no longer finance themselves through inter bank relations.
This means they are without liquidity. They will not therefore be financing
companies at risk, even for solid companies ordinary day to day financing is
Vulnerable companies in all sectors are now going bust; this will escalate
rapidly in the next weeks. By the year end this will have caused a
significant increase in unemployment worldwide.
Solid companies have frozen new investments, either for lack of bank
financing or due to adverse risk factors.
Export led economies are equally vulnerable as their major markets shrink.
We will see unemployment rise here too leading to widespread social unrest.
Those economies that have benefited from high prices of raw materials will
be particularly hit as the investments made on the assumption of increasing
prices became unsustainable.
The western economies have a varied capacity to react because some of them
are overleveraged already and have no further lending capacity. Others are
reasonably immune because they have small domestic economies based on
services. Among the first are GB, Italy, among the second Ireland, Greece,
Our individual investments will be worth much less, or even nothing, in the
short term as housing and stock markets collapse and banks fail. Many of us
will lose our jobs as companies fail, governments slash spending, consumers
The power of the western economies will be significantly reduced relative to
the east and middle east, awash with years of accumulated export and mineral
wealth. But the key will be to what point the western economies will be
able to sustain their unemployed masses before social breakdown occurs.
The measure to protect savings accounts are necessarily limited; taxpayers
payments to governments being used to guarantee taxpayers savings- the
mathematics doesn't work if that guarantee needs to be given over a long
So what to do ?
A first reaction is to go out and celebrate ! What the hell.
But after the hangover we've all got some very serious thinking to do, and
our collective reactions will determine for how long the depression will
For those of us with debts, by dramatically cutting our spending we will
contribute to an economic depression; by not doing so we are ignoring the
reality of our individual vulnerability and will shorten the time in which
our banks close the credit lines. For those of us with savings in the banks,
it's a frightening period- are they safe ? Are they hell ! But what do you
do with these savings ?
Interest rates will now fall dramatically and leaving money in the bank will
mean seeing its real value decline.
And it is this group which will inevitably lead us slowly out of the mess as
they withdraw their savings and take advantage of cheap markets to buy-
property and shares mainly.
It takes a brave man to invest today but the profits from doing so in the
medium term will be extraordinary. Companies have stock values so low they
are give aways; fire sales of houses make some properties incredible
bargains. They will reach the point of the early 1990s when to buy a house
cost less than to build a new one- then is the time to buy and the whole
economy will start to move again. It's two years before this happens.
Two years in which we've all got to face insecurity, fall in spending power,
actual or relative poverty. A dramatic response to a decade of over spending
fuelled by cheap money and sheer greed.
One bright note: economic decline will mean the use of less resources and
may actually benefit the environment. Take some comfort from that if you can
October 6th, 2008
Everyone who is involved, even a little bit, in Solid Waste Management and Life Cycle Thinking, knows very well that there are two major findings:
· Recycling is useless without a facility, even far away located, to receive recyclables and drove them back to a new Life Cycle loop.
· The results of Life Cycle Analysis are strongly depended on the geographical boundaries of the system because for some materials regional, national or even continental borders are not enough to materialize the actual benefits of recycling.
As the Climate Change factor got more and more important in decision making, it became clear that the more the distance of transfer the less the global benefits from recycling. Due to the globalization process and the differential requirements for raw and secondary materials between developed and developing countries, a new question emerges: is it worth to recycle if the actual close of the material life-cycle loop will be thousands miles away?
Although we can be quite sure regarding the benefits of recycling, it is a question whether those benefits are traded - off if we take into consideration the CO2 emissions from recyclables transfer for thousands miles.
Trying to answer to that question is not a simple task, but under certain assumptions and limitations WRAP provided an answer in the new report:
“CO2 impacts of transporting the UK’s recovered paper and plastic bottles to China”
The report is available at http://www.wrap.org.uk/
The major finding is that CO2 emissions associated with transporting one tone of recovered paper from the UK to China are estimated to lie between 154kg and 213kg of CO2. The emissions associated with CO2 impacts of transporting the UK’s recovered paper and plastic bottles to China 4 transporting one tone of recovered plastic bottles range between 158kg and 230kg of CO2. These CO2 emissions levels represent less than a third of the carbon savings from recycling identified by a majority of the life cycle assessments (LCAs) reviewed in the study. This suggests that there are CO2 savings to be made from recycling, even if the recovered materials have to be transported to China.
Reading this interesting report I made some more general conclusions.
The result confirms something that we already know: in order to achieve significant benefits from recycling a global network should be developed for recyclables management and utilization. For this network we need a set of flexible but effective rules and regulations that will assure that what is gained locally by recycling will not be lost globally by inappropriate management of recyclables.
Like all the Climate Change issues, recycling either it will be a global practice or it will die. Once again the future of our planet calls not just for cooperation but for a global recycling consortium which will include all continents and all countries. Is that possible? The answer is unknown but ISWA has a very important role to play in order to make it a “Yes”.
And last but not least, in the era of globalization Life Cycle Thinking should be a minimum requirement in order to take decisions for environmental issues. Our planet has become too wired to avoid it…
WAste Load Lifter Allocator – Earth class (WALL-E): a dream machine for waste management – a nightmare for the future of earth
I just watched the movie WALL-E with my daughter. It is a DISNEY – PIXAR production with high quality animation and interesting characters in the form of robots. But what makes the movie really audacious, at least for people working in waste management business, is that the main hero is a professional waste manager robot with the name Waste Load Lifter Allocator – Earth class (WALL-E). And this is why I think that the movie deserves some deeper thoughts about the future of waste management.
Comment 1: The movie presents earth, at least the big cities, after 500-700 years as “Waste Lands”. Different waste types have covered the whole surroundings and a lot of the actual city space. Skyscrapers have been built from packaged waste in order to save space for waste storage. No signal of life is detected. All the residents have been left for a cruise at space that lasts at least hundreds of years.
The only activity that is still going on is the waste packaging and allocation made by a robot.
I have never seen a so direct and full of meaning comment for the future of our civilization in case we will not find radical solutions to minimize waste production and improve their management in terms of maximizing recovery and minimizing residues.
WALL-E comes to remind everyone that solid waste management is directly related not only with the quality of life in big cities but even more with the actual capability to live in them. If we just imagine what will happen to New York, Paris or London, or any other big city in case waste management is completely out of order for 2-3 months…
The movie is also a great caution for the fact that we all know: the biggest challenges in solid waste management are still ahead us. The continuously increased production of waste in combination with the continuously increased variety and complexity of waste streams have created a big problem for our industry: waste management has to run just one step beyond new products consumption, without having the time and capacity to overtake (the curse of “always second”).
The only way to confront this lag – time is to integrate waste management and resources management. But that is something we all know is difficult, it needs radical industry transformations and it takes time. In order to gain more time, waste treatment technologies and recycling schemes are for the time being the only tools available.
The history of waste management has just started and the steps we have done so far are much more less than the steps we have to implement ahead.
Comment 2: Speaking technically, WALL-E as a robot is not so futuristic. Its main capabilities are already familiar in waste management industry, although they do not have been integrated in the form of a robot.
WALL-E moves using caterpillars and allocates the packs using well-designed mechanical arms, a little bit more modern that some lifters already have.
WALL-E can recognize different types of waste, using something like infrared or laser detector. Optical detectors have already been successfully tested in several facilities and are already in use.
Just because there is no human kind in earth, WALL-E makes no recycling or separation of waste streams. He (the robot is a male) peaks only what is a kind of game and all the rest are driven in his square stomach.
Then, his whole body acts as a compactor providing nice compacted waste packs.
WALL-E puts those packs in order creating daily cells, floors and skyscrapers of them.
My first thought when I saw WALL-E working was that this robot could be a kind of achievable machine for waste management industry. I am almost sure that robots that will act like WALL-E could be developed in the next 5-10 years. Maybe they will be not so handsome and sweet like WALL-E but certainly so effective in similar duties.
Comment 3 (final): There are some more interesting highlights in the movie. I peak two of them.
People in the space cruise are so much depended on robots and daily consumption of food and beverages, that they have been mutated to fat and unable to move entities. In general terms, the dependence of human kind on machines has been the subject of a lot of science fiction movies and books. But in this movie people have lost the most vital abilities: to move and communicate directly.
There is also a female robot called EVA. This robot is by far more advanced than WALL-E in terms of a. movement (EVA suspends and flies fast in stead of moving with caterpillars) and b. capacity to detect and recognize items.
The weak point of EVA is that it is by far much more depended from its technological advances and very sensitive to their damages or malfunctions.
WALL-E on the other hand is much more simple and heavy – duty made. Those properties are necessary in order to survive in crude environments, although they are creating troubles when you move to complex technological systems.
Instead of conclusion: go and watch WALL-E. There are a lot to think about…
Disclaimer: This Email is only for general information and is not to be taken as a substitute for specific advice. Views expressed are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent WMAA. WMAA: Suite 4D, 5 Belmore St BURWOOD NSW 2134, T: 02 8746 5000, F: 02 9701 0199. If you do not wish to receive further emails from WMAA please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a publication made at WIT Waste Management 2002 Conference in Cadith and can be found at:
The article can be downloaded from
It seems to me that in Argentina it is a period of increasing know-how about waste management and that ARS (the local ISWA member) is becoming a real effective agent in decision making.
There were really interesting debates about waste management planning procedures and experiences, a lot of succesful examples about applied technology concepts as well as a succesful discussion about the future of landfills and their social acceptance.
I was also impressed by the Brazilian experiences and the level of presentations deleivered by ABRELPE: these guys are really working hardly to improve waste management in Brazil.
I really enjoyed my participation and interaction with the audience during my lectures and I have to be gratefull for the things I learnt.
Soon, I will post my presentation about "Change and Waste management"
Beside from my special thanks to organizers, especially to Mr Atilio Savino and Ricardo Rollandi, I have to say that Mrs Soledad Garavelli was the real soul of the conference.
I really feel that the future of ISWA in Latin America is in good hands
I hope to see you again friends
The whole presentation can be found at:
Summary: main concepts and tools available to design an integrated waste management system under the sustainability approach
Summary: The construction of landfills is a no alternative option, since a landfill is always necessary independently of the specific waste management system that will be developed. The criteria that must be met to allocate a landfill are various and in many circumstances conflicting. For that reason the result is not univocal, it depends on the criteria and the methodology used together with its restrictions. The suggested methodology utilizes GIS technology for the input, the management and the visualization of the geographic data while fuzzy logic is used for the analysis of the data and the evaluation of the final results. The basic elements of the fuzzy logic methodology as well as its potential in the specific problem are described. A case study took place in one Governorate in Egypt, one of the twenty-seven country administrative units. The results drawn up by fuzzy logic are compared with that of the classical Boolean approach of data analysis.
Uncontrolled landfills comprise one of the most important topics as regards to Solid Waste Management (SWM) in Greece. The enviromental impacts of these landfills are closely related to some particular characteristics, namely the composition and quantity of the disposed solid wastes and the conditions that control the physicochemical processes inside the waste volume, which in fact determine the rehabilitation plan . The objective of this paper is to present a method to gain all these crucial data. The definition of the necessary information in order to have a sufficient knowledge about the landfill processes and the choice of the appropriate overall measurements (biogas, geophysical methods) are the key factors to transced the problem of unconformity and the absence of data, without wasting time and money.
Summary: The Council Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste, places targets on Member States to reduce the quantities of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) going on landfill. Greece taking advantage of the four-year extension allowed for those countries landfilling more than 80% of their waste in the year 1996, is formulating its strategy by placing targets for the years 2010, 2013 and 2020. The aim of this paper, is to present the approach for the formulation of the Greek Strategy, given a wide array of economic, cultural and geographic constraints coupled with a lack of reliable data-series on waste production.
SUMMARY: The specialization and knowledge improvement of those who are occupied in the sector of solid waste management is a high priority. The contemporary development of technology and legislation framework in combination with the accumulated management experience of solid waste structures, point to this direction. E-learning seems to be a useful tool not only for the development of labor market of the sector but also for the sustainability of solid waste facilities. Example: “Sanitary Landfill Manager” program.
Summary: The objective of this paper is to contribute in finding an effective decision – making tool for landfill design in developing countries. The paper is based on the experience gained from the implementation of the project «Action plan for the site location and the development of design, operation and environmental impact assessment methods of solid waste sanitary landfills in Egypt governorates» which is granted by EU LIFE 3rd Countries program. Taking into account a risk based approach, a simplified but effective landfill design tool is proposed. It is believed that such a tool can provide a good basis for the conceptual landfill design within a framework of limited financial resources that characterize developing countries.