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The Collectors’s project: how European waste collection systems can benefit from the multitude of practices available in Europe

Collector Project: How the European Waste Collection System can benefit from the many practices in Europe

After organizing an international conference in Warsaw in June last year and releasing a database network platform for 242 waste collection systems, the EU's H2020 collector project has already been halfway. Pierre Condamine, the European Zero Waste Policy Officer, described his leadership as part of the project, bringing together good examples of separate collections from across the European Union​​.

Every year, the European Union generates 2.5 billion tons of waste. This is equivalent to five tons per person.

The waste we generate contains a large amount of materials valuable to European industry, such as paper, wood, industrial minerals and metals. Despite the fact that some of these valuable materials can be nearly 100% recycled, and there is no loss in quantity and quality, such as glass and steel. Therefore, proper separate collection of waste is essential to ensure the best value recovery of materials.

The current trend of increasing the collection rate, encouraged by EU legislation, is promising, but it does not match the urgency required to solve the problems we face. Not only needs to accelerate progress, but the current progress among different EU member states is uneven.

We believe that showing good examples of waste collection practices across Europe may become a catalyst for other regions and cities to take action.

Together with multiple partners across Europe, through the EU H2020 COLLECTORS project, we have played a key role in helping to identify and highlight existing good practices in waste collection and sorting within the EU. The project specifically focuses on three waste streams: paper and packaging, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), and construction and demolition waste (CDW). Our goal is not only to coordinate and disseminate the available information about these good waste collection systems, but we are using this information to better understand the overall performance of the system and to support decision makers to move to better-performing systems through the topic Develop the capabilities of decision makers and develop clear guidelines on how to implement a robust and effective waste collection system.

With the completion of the first step of the project, the COLLECTORS network platform was launched. The platform is an online database that records the organization and performance of more than 240 European waste collection systems.

For us, the next phase of the project will focus on analyzing the data we collect from European cities and municipalities and using this data to design clear and concise policy recommendations for decision makers to help them implement a separate waste collection system . In 2020, we will hold a high-level event in Brussels to show these to officials of the European Union and other institutions.

We believe that communities and cities across Europe should adopt a zero-waste strategy based on a citizen-centered model, thereby drastically reducing waste generation and increasing separate collection and recycling. Through the COLLECTORS project, we are improving the image of major cities that are implementing high-performance independent collection systems. By increasing the level of attention and recognition of these successful waste collection strategies, we believe that this will help stimulate municipalities to take further action and accelerate the transition to zero waste at the city level.

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