Sustainable waste management in circular economy is more than just achieving recycling targets

Businesses and public authorities who manage and process waste play a key role in achieving a sustainable circular economy. We certainly have an interesting future ahead of us. It is our responsibility to keep on looking for the value in the waste flows we manage.

In a circular economy products and materials are given a second life. The added value of products is extended and thus the production of waste is kept to a minimum. Nevertheless, a waste management and waste treatment company such as Indaver has a key role to play within this reality. What is the reason behind this?

A circular economy requires large quantities of quality raw materials without drawing on the overburdened earth and its resources. Indaver's core business consists of treating waste in specialist facilities to recover maximum energy and products.  It is our responsibility to identify the value in the waste flows we manage.

It is essential to monitor the quality and safety of the materials cycle. In addition to managing the recovery of materials and energy, we destroy or remove unwanted and hazardous substances from waste flows or we store these safely. This prevents them from entering the materials and food chain.

In order to achieve this, extensive logistical operations are required and there must be adequate specialised treatment capacity. The products created from secondary raw materials must have the same high quality as products created from pure and virgin raw materials. We must ensure the same high level of standards and keep potential risks to a minimum. These are essential to achieving a circular economy in a sustainable manner. 

A circular economy is therefore not merely about recycling. This is definitely a necessary step in the right direction but in addition to quantitative key performance indicators (KPIs) for recycling, the qualitative and financial KPIs must also be analysed. Continually focusing on recycling targets alone offers no guarantee for sustainable waste management. The circular economy also focuses on added value and a high level of protection for people and the environment against hazardous substances. We must avoid contamination of the product and food chain at all costs since this simply shifts the problems into the future. We cannot allow that to happen.

Not only is a change of behaviour required but there must also be significant investment in product and technological developments. What we must do is align our business models to the requirements of the customer in a circular economy. You cannot expect a circular economy just to happen tomorrow. But if we remain committed to sustainability, and if we as a society have the courage to put ambitious quantitative and qualitative targets first, I believe that we will succeed.

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