From Waste Management to Resource Efficiency—The Need for Policy Mixes
2. Methodological Approach
2.1. Analysis of Existing Frameworks for Waste Management
2.2. Description and Analysis of Specific Instruments for an Innovative Waste Policy Mix
- The development of a policy mix for a resource efficient economy requires a systematic identification of resource relevant policy fields as a first step. Based on pertinent literature on Environmentally Extended Input Output assessments , policy fields were selected according to their resource intensity  and complemented by an assessment of their potential to improve resource efficiency [9,10,11]. This paper focuses on the policy field waste management, a well-established and often very much end-of-pipe oriented policy field with strong interlinkages to production processes, resource use and the end-of-life phase of materials (see Section 4). Within the scope of waste management, three types of instruments were identified and linked to three pathways : The harvest of low hanging fruits (i.e., an easily implemented instrument with prospective low barriers), the introduction of severe market interventions (i.e., with influences on the market systems), and a systemic transformation of production and consumption patterns.
- For the purpose to design a policy mix, the single instruments were examined regarding their essential characteristics based on the policy mix concept developed by Rogge and Reichardt  characterizing instruments by their goals, types and design features.
3. Investigation of Present Policy Frameworks, Institutions and Outcomes in the Waste Sectors at a National Scale
4. Instruments for an Innovative Resource Efficiency Oriented Circular Economy Policy Mix
4.1. Instrument 1: Waste Targets for Resource Efficiency
- Recycling targets refer to the weight of waste and neglect the ecological rucksacks related to them alongside their life cycle. Weight-based targets make sense from the perspective of securing disposal capacities, but they lead to a focus on recycling heavy stuff instead of the environmentally most relevant waste streams.
- The current recycling targets focus on the input for waste treatment procedures and do not take into account quality aspects of the resulting secondary raw materials. Based on the legal definitions set out in the Waste Framework Directive, a product or waste stream is “recycled” when it enters a specific waste treatment operation like shredding, incineration, etc. Again, this makes sense for the purpose of reducing waste volumes but it does not indicate how much of the raw materials contained in the waste stream are actually recovered and how it can be fed back into the production processes.
- The comparison of targets and their consequences for waste treatment and waste generation clearly shows that waste policy has an impact on recycling but it fails to influence the generation or composition of waste so far—although this should be the top priority of all waste policy and infrastructure planning according to the Waste Framework Directive.
4.2. Instrument 2: Mandatory Ecodesign Standards for Reuse and Repair-Ability
- Widening the scope of the European Ecodesign directive to reuse- and repair-ability criteria: The implementation of mandatory ecodesign standards for reuse and repair through the existing European Ecodesign directive is proposed by several studies [26,30,31]. Since the directive is already in place the feasibility could be a main reason for applying the directive for promoting reuse and repair on a European level . On the other hand, Oehlmann and Herlédan  argue that the agreement procedure of the implementing measures takes too long and runs the risk to be quickly technically out-dated. On average, the procedure takes 55 month while the innovation cycle of electrical and electronic equipment is often shorter. In addition, the data quality is poor, since manufactures are not obliged to provide specific technical or economic information of their products. Also market surveillance is inefficient, due to too few employees, insufficient budgets, inadequate surveillance infrastructures and sanctions. Insufficient cooperation of Member States and within industry and the absence of standardised measuring methods are further reasons for the inefficient market surveillance. Obviously, implementing mandatory ecodesign standards for reuse and repair of electrical and electronic equipment through the existing European Ecodesign directive can be a promising approach but possibly not the most effective, as long as no flanking measures are being implemented.
- Measuring of reuse- and repair-ability: Appropriate parameters are required to practically measure the reuse-ability and repair-ability. According to Brünning et al.  determining technical criteria for the assessment of the reuse-ability of electrical and electronic equipment are the types and varieties of parts and materials used, suitability for disassembly, cleaning and testing. Ardente and Mathieux  have proposed a threshold for the time needed for the disassembly of the products’ components under a standardised procedure. Further parameters, for instance, can be a limited number of bolds, the avoidance of glue or welding of parts and the availability of spare parts.
- Demand for ecodesigned products: The throw-away culture in which a quick turnover of (often cheap) goods and a low acceptance of reused products (e.g., social stigma, distrust regarding quality and safety) has become a deeply routed barrier on the consumer side. This may contribute to a low demand for even ecodesigned products. According to a 2011 Eurobarometer survey, the most common reasons for not buying second-hand products were related to concerns about product quality and usability (58% of mentions) . However, some best practice examples (e.g., Kringloop in Flandern, Revital in Austria) underpin the fact that repair and reuse can be practiced successfully when there is a strong support of reuse activities (see, e.g., ). In this respect, the linking of mandatory product ecodesign standards with a strong support of reuse activities will contribute to a greater cost-effectiveness of repair, but also to awareness rising and growing demand for repair and reuse, thus leading to circularity compliant with the waste hierarchy.
4.3. Instrument 3: Individual Producer Responsibility
- Responsibilities on national, European and global level: If responsibilities are not directly assigned to the manufacturer, fragmented in the producing company or different from country to country, the effectiveness of the instrument will be hampered. Manufacturers may hesitate to optimise their material choices and the product design as long as such obligations are limited to the national market. Even if manufacturers are the obligated producers, problems may arise due to too little interaction between the managers responsible for the WEEE Directive compliance and those for the product design. Moreover, different national policies for the management of WEEE can result in less effectiveness, as highlighted in the WEEE Directive: “In particular, different national applications of the ‘producer responsibility’ principle may lead to substantial disparities in the financial burden on economic operators. Having different national policies on the management of WEEE hampers the effectiveness of recycling policies. For that reason, the essential criteria should be laid down at the level of the Union” .
- Administrative costs vs. maximum incentives for improved design: The costs to producers of the end-of-life phase of their products can be either based on return shares or the producer establishes an individual handling of the downstream operations. The costs of the discarded products based on return shares can be determined by random sampling or by sorting each product exactly by brand name. In general, administration costs associated with the product identification are often regarded as “expensive”, although there is little empirical evidence regarding the actual costs . Likewise, the use of innovative technologies, for example, optical bar codes, chipless tags or radio frequency identification (RFID)  used to minimize these costs can be hampered by several factors (e.g., RFID: sensibility regarding grime, reduced readability of RFID because of high amounts of metals, reduction of a person’s privacy, high resource use for the RFID tags).
- The issue of “orphan products” due to bankruptcy of producers: The incentive for producers with decreasing market sales to leave the financial system before a large portion of the products return (high costs in combination with lower sales) can also restrict the effectiveness of the instrument. The option of the producer’s participation in “appropriate schemes” for the financing of the management of WEEE must be defined in such a way that costs do not burden the remaining producers in the market or society in the event of bankruptcy , e.g., preventing orphan products by the implementation of financial guarantees.
- Unknown future benefits: In the context of the design for end-of-life and EPR programmes, producers may not favour incentive based legislation, as future benefits are uncertain and any current investments would not lead to significant net present value benefits for firms.
- The European regulatory framework for waste too weakly influences national waste management planning and institutional setting for pushing waste issues substantially forward and rather leads to a diversion of policy choices, which highlights uncertainty and knowledge deficits in the general transformation from waste to resource.
- The EU targets for waste are transposed into the national regulatory frameworks but the outcomes show that the implementation of EU legislation into national law and the targets themselves (i.e., weight based instead of considering material quality aspects) are not sufficient in order to manage waste as a resource.
- The aim of steering waste onto routes that save most natural and economic resources (waste hierarchy) is not tackled due to a lack of integrated environmental and economic assessments, monitoring and integrated planning with regard to potential detrimental effects on resource efficiency.
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|Institutional set-up and incentives/programmes||Targets||Municipal solid waste (MSW) recycling target||1 if more ambitious than EU target/0 if EU target|
|End-of-life vehicle (ELV) recycling target||1 if more ambitious than EU target/0 if EU target|
|Regulatory framework||Existence of a waste prevention programme (WPP) in accordance with Art. 29 WFD|
|Number of waste management plans or concepts/Levels of target setting national/regional/local|
|Specific law for biogenic waste|
|Agencies and competences||Existence of an agency for environmental issues including waste issues|
|Policy instruments for waste management||Economic recovery programmes||1 if existent/0 if not existent|
|Waste charge systems||1 if exist 3 instruments/0.5 if exist 2 instruments/0 if exist 1 instrument|
|Extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme on end-of-life vehicles (ELV)||1 if existent/0 if not existent|
|Waste prevention programme (WPP) instruments||1 if more than 50% regulativ and economic instruments/0.5 if more than 25% regulativ and economic instruments/0 if less than 25% regulativ and economic instruments|
|Technical set-up||Technical infrastructures||Municipal solid waste (MSW) incineration capacity per capita||1 if above 0.8 quintile/0.75 if above 0.6 quintile/0.5 if above 0.4 quintile/0.25 if above 0.2 quintile/0 if no MSW incineration capacity|
|Access separate bio-waste collection||1 if 100%/0.5 if partly implemented/0 if not implemented|
|End-of-life vehicles (ELV) treated per authorized treatment facility (ATF)||1 if above 0.8 quintile/0.75 if above 0.6 quintile/0.5 if above 0.4 quintile/0.25 if above 0.2 quintile/0 if no ELV facility|
|Outcomes||Municipal solid waste (MSW) recycling rate||1 if above the EU targets/0 if less than EU target|
|Biodegradable municipal solid waste (MSW) landfilling rate||1 if 0%/0.5 if less than EU target 2009/0 if above EU target 2009)|
|End-of-life vehicles (ELV) recycling rate||1 if above the EU targets/0 if less than EU target|
|Waste Prevention Programmes||Waste Management Plans||Specific Regulations on Bio-Waste|
|Stand-Alone Programme||Incorporated in WMP||WPP Not in Place, but Planned||National||Regional/Provincial||Local||Ordinance||Strategy||Covered in WMP|
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Wilts, H.; Von Gries, N.; Bahn-Walkowiak, B. From Waste Management to Resource Efficiency—The Need for Policy Mixes. Sustainability 2016, 8, 622. https://doi.org/10.3390/su8070622
Wilts H, Von Gries N, Bahn-Walkowiak B. From Waste Management to Resource Efficiency—The Need for Policy Mixes. Sustainability. 2016; 8(7):622. https://doi.org/10.3390/su8070622Chicago/Turabian Style
Wilts, Henning, Nadja Von Gries, and Bettina Bahn-Walkowiak. 2016. "From Waste Management to Resource Efficiency—The Need for Policy Mixes" Sustainability 8, no. 7: 622. https://doi.org/10.3390/su8070622