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Circular Economy Quotes

Governmental Sources

Rebecca Pow, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:
I wanted to be very clear, and I hope it has come out in what I have said, that the measures in the resources and waste strategy and the Environment Bill will enable a paradigm shift, in relation to reducing, reusing and recycling our waste, that should limit the amount that ever has to go to incineration and landfill. I hope that, from what I have said, hon. Members understand what is happening, the direction that the Government are absolutely committed to, and the move to a circular economy.

Professor Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:
If there is one way of quickly extinguishing the value in a material, it is to stick it in an incinerator and burn it. It may give you energy out at the end of the day, but some of those materials, even if they are plastics, with a little ingenuity, can be given more positive value. One thing that worries me is that we are taking these materials, we are putting them in incinerators, we are losing them forever and we are creating carbon dioxide out of them, which is not a great thing...I think that incineration is not a good direction to go in.

Parliamentary Sources

London Assembly Environment Committee:
Burning waste takes materials out of the circular economy...

European Union Sources

Waste Framework Directive Experts' Group:
Too much reliance on "quick-fix" solutions to increase their capacity to pre-treat mixed waste, such as expanding MBT or mixed waste incineration capacity, would be at odds with and undermine more long-term solutions guided by circular economy thinking and the waste hierarchy. Thus, particular attention should be paid to rolling out separate collection and recycling (in particular for municipal of bio-waste) and waste prevention (including of food waste).

European Environment Agency:
One of the central pillars of a circular economy is feeding materials back into the economy and avoiding waste being sent to landfill or incinerated, thereby capturing the value of the materials as far as possible and reducing losses.

European Environment Agency:
While energy recovered through incineration can partly compensate for (fossil) fuel use, incineration is to be minimised, as the energy from incineration can be used only once and thus removes materials from the loop.

William Neale, member of cabinet for European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik with responsibility for waste.:
We have to have a circular economy concept, so it’s highly important that we’re pumping back materials into the economy rather than burning or burying them.

Janez Potočnik European Commissioner for Environment:
...unlimited growth on a limited planet means that this linear approach will inevitably lead to scarcity, price-volatility, supply disruptions and pricing levels that are unaffordable for our economy’s industrial base. This is particularly problematic for Europe, where we are heavily import dependent for our materials. The answer is, instead of burying or burning those materials at the end of their life, to pump them back into the economy.

Academic Sources

Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Dr. Enzo Favoino, et. al.:
WTE facilities are not the best environmental option for managing leftover waste and they are not a bridge to a Zero Waste future, as claimed by the WTE industry.

Other Sources

Christian Schaible, Policy Manager for Industrial Production at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB):
...There is no place for waste incineration in a circular economy...Ultimately, Europe must prevent waste and stop burning precious resources. To embrace the zero pollution strategy, we need to replace waste incineration with clean heating alternatives. Yet as long as incineration plants are still operating, Europeans expect and deserve the very best protection

Changing Markets Foundation, Zero Waste Europe and UKWIN:
In a world increasingly aware of its planetary boundaries, limited resources and rising restrictions on carbon emissions, and with the UK Government committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, it’s imperative that every sector within the UK dramatically shifts to a circular economy model. It is essential that manufacturers – including those in the carpet industry – begin to take responsibility for the products they put on the market, including collection and recycling. Carpet must be designed with waste reduction, reuse and recycling in mind – and this recycling must be carpet-to-carpet in order to close the loop.

Changing Markets Foundation, Zero Waste Europe and UKWIN:
Instead of focusing on increasing carpet-to-carpet recycling, CRUK has relied heavily on incineration and downcycling...Given that so little progress has been made over the past decade, it is time for the UK Government to introduce mandatory legislation for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the carpet industry...Shifting the carpet industry to a circular economy model is crucial to tackling its substantial waste problem. The current system means society is throwing away billions of pounds of valuable products, while polluting the environment with negative impacts on human health. Carpet companies must redesign their products to reduce waste at source, and enable reuse and closed-loop recycling of their products at the end of life. The way in which carpet is currently designed (mixed fibres, latex secondary backing, glued, use of potentially hazardous chemicals) makes it difficult to recycle...

Libby Peake, senior policy adviser at resources think tank Green Alliance:
Years of neglecting the top options - recycling, reuse and, most importantly, reduction - are starting to take their toll. Most waste isn't an inevitability, but a failure of our current linear economy. Focusing exclusively on diverting material from landfill (in most instances into incineration) represents only a marginal improvement and risks detracting attention from the larger structural changes that will be required to make the economy more sustainable.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation:
Landfill, incineration, and waste-to-energy are not part of the circular economy target state

Ellen MacArthur Foundation:
Today’s recycling processes are typically ‘loose’ or long cycles that reduce material utility to its lowest 'nutrient' level. This is even more true for the incineration of waste. In a circular economy, by contrast, reverse activities in the circular economy will extend across an array of circles for repair and refurbishment of products, and remanufacturing of technical components. Likewise, the reverse chain for biological nutrients returns those back to the biosphere via composting and anaerobic digestion.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation:
Today, ‘reverse cycles’ are significantly impaired by...leakage from the system through subsidised incineration...

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