This is a contribution from Erik De Baedts, NVRD director. Thanks a lot Erik for this really inspiring post, I hope there will be some good replies. I am sure that the current discussion regarding green market and green development are inspiring you.
"In The Netherlands the economic crisis is -among other things- seen as an opportunity to give an impetus to more sustainable development. A financial impulse should be subject to conditions regarding sustainability.
To what extent can the waste industry itself give an impulse to sustainable ways of production and consumption?
Waste management companies, beit from a public or a private background, know which materials can be reused and which cannot. So in product chains they can get in touch with producers to indicate which materials to use and which not.
An example: at this point we see tea bags being introduced in plastics. Organic and non-organic materials together in the waste bin. Unnecessarily difficult and costly to manage. Not in any way a sustainable innovation at all.This is just an example from the daily household. However, in textiles, clothing, but also in electronics, and in many sectors, continuously choices about materials and design are being made throughout the industry.
So far, the waste management industry finds itself at the end of the pipelines in all these product chains. It just manages the outcome of choices earlier made by others. Does the waste industry see the opportunity to play a more active role?In fact, can ideas be turned into concrete trajectories? Are there opportunities to promote that waste management companies upscale their activities to become logistic and production companies that are providers of secondary resource?
Of course the use of secondary resources over primary resources is more beneficial to the natural resources we leave to our children and grandchildren. Waste management and recycling industry can be an important partner in such a perspective.
What conditions for production and consumption should be set at government level to promote such a development? Can projects be set in motion that show the dynamics and social responsibility that mark the waste industry?
I look forward to your ideas and inputs."