Separate reports spell out the importance of tackling emerging and existing waste streams
A briefing from the European Environment Agency (EEA) suggests that the rapid shift to renewable technologies, poses new waste challenges for the EU. The briefing: Emerging Waste Streams: Opportunities and Challenges of the clean-energy transition from a circular economy perspective, indicates that by a anticipating the challenges, the EU can introduce policies applying circular economy principles to this emerging sector from an early stage.
The briefing focuses on waste from batteries for energy storage, solar photovoltaic cells for electricity production and wind turbines. It highlights that waste arising from the development and use of renewable energy infrastructure is resource-rich, and includes rare earth elements as well as materials such as copper, steel and glass. The briefing also indicates that policy makers and industry can address the waste and resource challenges associated with the shift to renewable energy technologies through approaches such as eco-design, material-specific recycling targets and extended producer responsibility schemes.
In a separate development Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has released a report which evaluates ways to convert plastic waste, that cannot be recycled using existing methods, into new resources.
The report: Advanced recycling technologies to address Australia’s plastic waste (PDF) (original article: Advanced recycling turning plastic waste into resources), produced in consultation with Chemistry Australia, LyondellBasell and Qenos, is focused in building the country’s circular economy. It is estimated that 130 000 tonnes of plastic gets into Australia’s marine environment each year. Less than 12% of plastic waste is recycled and about 85% ends up in landfill.
Peter Bury, Chemistry Australia’s Director for Strategy, Energy and Research said: ‘Mechanical recycling methods are our foundation technologies… Advanced recycling can sit alongside these to further strengthen Australia’s recycling capabilities for plastics that cannot be processed through existing channels.’
Australia has set a target of 70% of packaging to be recycled or composted by 2025 and an 80% recovery rate from all waste streams by 2030.