Headache fractions in mixed municipal waste
Many consumer products pose significant waste management challenges and end up in landfills or incinerators after the use phase. From circular economy and waste management perspectives, such products can be considered "headaches" when it comes to recycling and reducing residual municipal waste.
At the workshop Headache fractions in mixed municipal waste, organised as a side event of the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF), the issues at hand will be discussed together with what needs to be changed to increase recycling and promote circularity.
The workshop will draw on learnings from a European Environment Agency (EEA) study, conducted by the European Topic Centre on Circular Economy and Resource Use. The study has analysed product categories such as beverage cups, e-textiles, furniture, mattresses and others, which are considered challenging with regard to their end-of-life management.
The report looks at product groups which today:
- are not easily recycled
- make up a significant part of current residual waste
- present an elevated risk for human health and the environment in current end-of-life systems.
Some of the identified challenging factors include:
- consumer attitudes,
- complex structures and materials and/or
- the presence of harmful substances to health and the environment.
Identified solutions include:
- reducing complexity and
- favouring non-toxic materials at the design stage and/or extended producer responsibility (EPR).
Such solutions could support major EU Green Deal goals, including zero-pollution.
Throughout the session, the findings of the study will be discussed and a joint reflection will be carried out on implications and leverage points for better management of such products in order to increase recycling and promote circularity.