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Key factors to meet prevention and recycling targets for municipal solid waste: collection systems, environmental education programmes and taxation

Ainhoa Alonso Vicario; Iraia Oribe García; Cruz Enrique Borges Hernández; Marta Vila Gambao; Gemma Nohales Duarte; Michele Giavini

Almost 10% of the waste produced in the European Union (EU) is domestic. This averages out to 475 kg per person per annum, and accounts for over 3% of Europe’s GHG emissions. Efficient management of urban waste is therefore a key challenge for the 21st century and one of the main responsibilities of public authorities.
This briefing (based on international project Waste4Think results) sets out to outline decision-making tools for the public authorities in matters of municipal solid waste (MSW) management, with a view to improving it via public engagement. The document gives an innovative overview of the problem, and provides tools and mechanisms for determining new, across-the-board policies, monitoring them and quantifying their impact so as to facilitate learning and transference. In particular it seeks to respond to the main questions posed by any administration on this matter: 1) What are the main challenges in waste management and how to they fit into the latest directives and key elements on matters of a circular economy?; 2) How can those elements be factored in across the board?; 3) The WESTE methodology: What information is needed to monitor the impact of policies?; 4) Monitoring: loss of anonymity?; 5) Taxation: a matter of fairness? Transparency?; 6) awareness and public engagement: How can a change in habits be brought about if information alone is not enough?
The document also provides readers with some of the most innovative examples of the following: 1) implementation of PAYT (Pay-As-You-Throw) systems; 2) measures for containing food wastage; 3) waste prevention via eco-design policies; 4) zero waste ecosystems, with particular emphasis on municipal amenities; and 5) municipal councils with successful, pioneering collection systems.

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