United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

European Union

Statement on behalf of the European Union and its 27 Member States
Hugo-Maria SCHALLY
Delegation of the European Union
Intergovernmental preparatory meeting
of the 19th Commission on Sustainable Development
Waste management
United Nations
New York
2 March 2011

Mr Chair,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its 27
Member States.
The last CSD 18 meeting, the recent SG report on policy options and actions
and the Resource Paper for the CSD19 decision have identified possible
ways forward in the field of waste management. Among them, a long term
waste management strategy within the context of sustainable development and
poverty eradication should ideally address the whole life cycle. This life cycle
approach should begin with minimization of waste ? including through eco-efficient
product design ? and continue through to recycling and reuse, with disposal only of
those residuals not recyclable and reusable at acceptable cost and in an
environmentally and socially sound manner.
In the context of this CSD cycle, there are two priorities that we consider
as particularly crucial in order to advance the implementation of
sustainable development in waste management.
First, it is essential to move towards a recycling society. We need to
decouple environmental degradation from economic growth, to minimise
the negative effects of the generation and management of waste on human
health and the environment, as well as to encompass all dimensions of
sustainable development. We believe that we can do this by using
integrated approaches, such as the life-cycle thinking, and by managing
waste in the following priority order: waste prevention and minimization,
reuse, recycling, energy recovery and environmentally sound disposal. We
like to refer to this as the waste hierarchy.
It is also inextricably linked to the need for exploring further ways of
reducing the use of hazardous substances, including heavy metals. It is
indeed important to promote their substitution in products and production
processes, amongst others to facilitate reuse and recycling and avoid
unintended consequences and the recirculation of hazardous substances.
We all have the responsibility to pursue this objective at the national level. At the
regional and global level more efforts are needed, for example within the Basel
Convention, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management
(SAICM) and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which
bans the use of some pollutants and encourage their substitution by others
substances with lower health and environmental impacts. Similar measures are
under consideration in the envisaged legally binding instrument on mercury.
Prevention should be based on the polluter pays principle, include extended
producer responsibility and product information availability, and act upstream on
the consumption pattern and the eco-conception of the product. Prevention also
includes reducing the presence of hazardous substances in products in order to
diminish the environmental impact of waste treatment.
Waste, which can?t be prevented, should be separated (e.g. by separate collection)
and used to as great extent as possible through preparation for reuse and recycling.
Reuse and recycling (e.g. bio-waste) contribute to resource preservation, by
converting wastes into products. This can contribute to sustainable growth, and
have a lower environmental impact than incineration and landfill.
When further recycling is not possible or suitable, consideration should be given to
energy recovery, some wastes being very suitable for that process under certain
conditions. In this respect, biological and thermal waste treatments are alternative
sources of energy to fossil fuel resources.
Finally, disposal should be restricted as much as possible to waste that can not be
used in a recovery process: Banning landfilling of certain types of waste is therefore
useful as well as targets for reducing quantities of biodegradable waste in landfills in
order to reduce waste-related greenhouse gas emissions, thus combating climate
A mix of legislative, non-legislative and economic instruments together with
clear political objectives is most effective. Clear responsibilities and strict
requirements serve as a strong base for sustainable development in waste
management. As well as a legislative framework, there is a need to foster the
development of policy instruments encouraging waste prevention, minimisation,
reuse and recycling based on polluter pays principle or extended producer
responsibility (e.g. fee systems). Systems for waste collection and infrastructure in
waste management need adequate financing instruments involving the private sector
so as to increase the delivery of infrastructure projects and help build partnerships
between the public and the private sector (e.g. through semi public companies or
companies from the cooperative and voluntary sectors).
It is also particularly important that the waste hierarchy principles, which
aim at reducing the use of resources, be reflected in the content of the
future 10 YFP on SCP. The inclusion of life-cycle thinking is also particularly
relevant. Besides, it is vital to develop information, awareness-raisin g and
educational strategies in favour of eco -behaviours. Modified patterns of
consumption and production can indeed contribute to waste prevention.
If sustainable waste management is crucial in overall sustainable
development through more efficient resource use, it also contributes
significantly to job opportunities and green economy. Reuse-recycling
initiatives at relevant scales and supporting urban and rural waste management
provide income-generating opportunities for small and medium enterprises.
Partnerships between local authorities and informal sector operators are a
way to integrate informal waste collection and recycling into formal, better
regulated systems.
In the field of capacity-building and financial assistance, planning
instruments for local and national waste strategy implementation are
helpful to concentrate and allocate resources for activities in developing
countries. Public authorities, who are the closest to citizens, play a
significant role in waste management and experiences show that projects
with local co-financing are particularly successful. We have been particularly
active in the field of cooperation and financial assistance as well as by contributing to
international policy-making, by participating in multilateral agreements such as the
Basel Convention and international organisations, and managing a range of
development instruments supporting sustainable management such as geographic
programmes and the Thematic Programme For Environment and Sustainable
Management of Natural Resources including Energy.
To conclude, on this first priority, in order to move towards a recycling
society, we are of the view that further steps should be also taken at the
level of bi- and multilateral development cooperation and within
international institutions like UNEP, UNDP, UN-HABITAT, UNIDO and GEF, or
under the Basel Convention and SAICM.
The EU and it?s Member States welcomes last week?s UNEP Governing
Council decisions on chemicals and waste management.
We take note of the recent initiatives by UNEP to set up a global partnership
on waste management and by UN-DESA and UNCRD to launch an
international partnership for expanding waste management services of local
authorities. We are of the view that strengthened cooperation and
coordination with relevant United Nations and other relevant international
institutions in the area of waste management is needed, in order to ensure
clarity, coherence, complementarity, and avoid duplication and overlapping
of work. Opportunities for collaboration should be identified between the
two initiatives in order to benefit the progression of sustainability into
waste management.
Mr Chair,
Our second priority on waste management is to move towards increased
sound and safe management of hazardous waste. Hazardous waste should be
regulated under strict specifications in order to prevent or limit, as far as possible,
the potential negative effects on the environment and on human health due to
inappropriate management.
We would like to support and highlight the crucial role of the Basel
Convention in the field of hazardous waste management, especially the
issue of the illegal shipment of waste and the e-waste challenge, taking also
into account SAICM?s work on the latter issue. In order to address the issue of
illegal traffic without hampering trade of products, the international community
should work on the following issues:
- Cooperation against illegal waste shipment, especially when it comes to illegal
export from developed to developing countries;
- Clarification of the distinction between waste and non-waste and hazardous/non
hazardous waste for streams such as WEEE. Further harmonization needs to be
achieved with regard to the distinction between waste and non -waste.
We are also of the view that more attention is needed towards other specific
hazardous waste challenges, and in this respect, we wish :
- to call for the ratification of the Hong Kong International Convention for
the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, keeping in mind
that, in this particular field, the implementation of the Basel and the Hong
Kong conventions has to remain complementary and coherent;
- to call for a strengthening of efforts to combat adverse impacts from
land-based human activities that lead to the introduction of litter in the
marine environment;
- to support and highlight the fundamental principles of the Joint
Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of
Radioactive Waste Management under the auspices of the International
Atomic Energy Agency as well as the need to put in place national spent
fuel and radioactive waste management plans.
I thank you for your attention.