I have been studying on line the European Union’s Circular Economy strategy which is designed to create much more value and much less waste out of the resources we use. It is a very ambitious system with, supposedly, increasing targets for waste prevention, reuse and recycling and has had evidence of some success in various countries.
Unfortunately, the targets are non-binding and just last month were further reduced. However, some countries have had success – Germany and Austria have had the best record, and new technology is being developed such as The Netherlands’ “hot compost” which can compost everything organic including some plastics.
EuRIC is the umbrella organization for all the recycling industries in Europe and has good information on its site. Also, based in the UK, is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation whose mission is to accelerate a transition to a Circular Economy and has done more than any other organization to understand how and why to build a Circular Economy. And there is the Zero Waste Europe which is more political and trying to make it happen faster. Another good resource is the European Union’s Environmental department site.
Basically, I think that the Circular Economy is a great idea whose time has come (actually it came years ago) and has had some really great successes. However, it will be challenged by the politics of the different countries and of course by some big corporations etc., and probably be delayed and watered down over and over. For instance, an Italian waste company which is not allowed to incinerate anymore in Europe has made an agreement with Mexico to build a huge facility and transport toxic material there for incineration much to the dismay of the residents there. It’s a real struggle for most of the earth’s population against our real enemies.