27 July 2021
DWMA - Annual Review 2020
The Dutch Waste Management Association (DWMA) has published its Annual Review 2020. Much of our work during the past year was concerned with the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. ‘I am really proud of all the men and women who made sure the work of our sector could carry on,’ says DWMA chair Boris van der Ham. The other main theme was the DWMA’s ongoing work towards the transition to a circular economy. A number of activities are highlighted in the Annual Review 2020.
Safe and healthy working
The Covid pandemic has shown just how essential the waste sector is. Immediately after the virus took hold in the Netherlands the sector stepped forward and introduced appropriate measures, both to protect workers against infection and to guarantee that waste collection and treatment would continue. The DWMA took pride in the men and women who continued to work at full strength and expressed its appreciation for their efforts on radio and television. At the initiative of the DWMA, employers, industry and workers organisations prepared a protocol for working in socially distanced society – and their efforts bore fruit. The waste industry continued working and the number of infections has been kept to manageable proportions.
Focus on quality
The DWMA continued to press the case for improving the quality of separately collected waste streams. If we want to make real progress, the focus must be on quality at every link of the chain. For household waste streams it is essential to provide clear information, and an important step in this direction was taken with the launch of the uniform Yes/No list for food and garden waste (FGW). A petition for improving the quality of separately collected FGW met with a positive response. The government recognises that the quality of FGW must improve and has pledged to look into banning logos on packaging that incorrectly state that it can be disposed of in the FGW bin.
The waste sector embraces the government’s climate ambitions, but more effective methods are available to reduce CO2 emissions than the import tax on combustible waste and the carbon tax. Taxation puts a brake on innovation and the transition to sustainability. Efforts should be made higher up the chain to stimulate recycling and reuse, for example by imposing an obligation to use more recycled material in the manufacture of products and by stimulating carbon capture and reuse. This will reduce the need for primary raw materials and fossil fuels, which in turn delivers reductions in carbon emissions.
The EU should support the waste sector with measures to stimulate the sale and use of secondary raw materials. The DWMA is delighted that the European Commission has included a mandatory rule on a minimum recycled content for products in its 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan. Making the use of secondary raw materials in new products mandatory will increase demand and improve the business case for recycled materials. A standard for a minimum recycled content can only be introduced at the European level. The sector wants to substantially increase investment in the circular economy, but this depends on guaranteed equal treatment and an open European market for waste.
More and better recycling
Crucial in the transition to a circular economy and for climate protection is the recycling of waste resulting from production and consumption. The DWMA is working to promote more and better recycling and in 2020 launched a competition for citizens’ recycling initiatives. On Global Recycling Day (18 March), Rien Voets, a litter picker from Berlicum was chosen as Recycling Hero 2020. He represents the many volunteers who do what they can to help keep the living environment clean and tidy.
Research has clearly shown that source separation of food waste in high-rise buildings is feasible. Composters are keen to obtain this material, as organic kitchen waste is highly suitable for anaerobic digestion followed by composting. Pilot studies on the separation of food waste in high-rise have shown that the raw material is sufficiently clean. This is an important criterion for the sector, because only then can it be used for the production of clean compost.
Energy from waste accounts for about 10% of the sustainable energy generated in the Netherlands. But much more is possible if optimum use is made of heat and steam, and the use of heat and steam from incinerators is one of the most cost-effective solutions. For this reason the sector deserves a place in the Dutch energy transition. This should be reflected in the Regional Energy Strategies, the drafts of which were delivered in 2020.