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Proposals for targets and indicators for waste prevention

  • Published on November 7, 2018
Of interest to policymakers and researchers/consultants faced with the task of developing waste prevention indicators and targets. Here the focus is on textiles, food, building and construction waste and WEEE but the method can be applied to other streams. Formulation of a wide range of waste prevention targets for each waste stream. Selection of best-available and best-needed indicators that can be applied to monitor these targets.
The objective of this project was to develop first proposals for targets and indicators that could be used in the Nordic countries (and in other countries with reasonable data collection) as part of waste prevention programmes. An important requirement was that the indicators should be designed based on existing datasets (waste statistics, consumer statistics and so on) or on new data that could be collected at reasonable cost. Developing indicators for waste prevention is a first step in taking steps to prevent waste at national or regional level. When you measure something, you raise awareness on the issue and can see whether it is going in the right or wrong direction. In a next step a government can set targets associated with these indicators and then develop policies that will allow these targets to be met. If the indicators are chosen carefully by measuring not only actual waste levels but also the key drivers of waste generation, this assists in the development of useful responses. Four waste streams were considered; food waste, construction and demolition waste (C&D waste), waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and textile waste. We carried out a literature review of international experiences in waste prevention policy, waste definitions, target setting and use of indicators for the four waste streams. This included a review of existing waste prevention programmes and measures in EU Member States. Based on the findings of the review and our own expertise we developed proposals for targets and indicators. To assist in this we developed a typology of waste prevention indicators categorising indicators into output-based (e.g. waste generated), input-based (e.g. consumption volumes of new products), input-versus-output (e.g. waste generation per unit consumption), decoupling (e.g. waste generation per Euro of production/consumption), impact (e.g. GHG emissions from waste generation) and response (e.g. municiplaities with a waste prevention taregt) indicators. We then selected indicators covering this spectrum of indicator types. We then assessed potential indicators using the RACER (Relevance, Acceptance, Credibility, Ease and Robustness) system for indicator assessment. These consider among other things data availability and quality. We didn't find many indicators in the literature apart from for Food Waste for which we identified 11. Although we also found some targets for waste prevention in the four streams non of these were associated with an indicator. This situation has hopefully improved since the study was carried out. We proposed 19 targets and associated indicators for waste prevention across the four themes. For each taregt we identified a best available indicator and a best needed indicator (a better indicator that can't yet be built using available data). The targets for textiles were as follows: - Reduce consumption of new textiles by x% or x kg/capita per year - Increase the share of high quality textiles products - Increase the share of second-hand products in total sales of textiles by x% per year - Increase the number of eco-labelled products by x% per year It is not clear what impact the project has had on policymakers as the focus on waste prevention has grown. The site has been visited 18 000 times and the report downloaded over 1000 times and we therefore hope that this has inspired governments in their search for relevant and practicable indicators.

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