Christian Strasser, Deputy Head of the Life Environment Unit

Life tackles Waste and Supports Resource Efficiency

Some 100 LIFE projects attended a platform meeting on waste this month (June 2014), held during Green Week in Brussels.

Christian Strasser, Deputy Head of the LIFE Environment Unit, opened the meeting by welcoming delegates and speaking about the importance of the LIFE programme. He noted that in its 22-year history the programme has financed some 4 000 projects and invested over €3.1 billion in environmental protection. The new LIFE regulation for the 2014-2020 period will enable this work to continue.

In the area of waste and resource efficiency, over 200 projects have been announced since 2007 and the number increases every year. Mr Strasser told attendees, "Your work is very important for Europe and the world. Through the LIFE programme, it helps Europeans to find a better way to live healthier, save resources and make Europe more sustainable, fully in line with the 7th Environmental Action Programme's [EAP] heading 'Living well within the limits of our planet'."

Sylvie Ludain, Desk Officer with the LIFE Environment Unit, gave an overview of the new features for waste in the LIFE programme, noting, "It's a small programme with a limited budget but with a big impact. "The overall goals for 2020 are to reduce waste generation, maximise recycling and reuse, limit incineration to non-recyclable materials, and limit landfilling to non-recyclable and non-recoverable waste.

In the first Multiannual Work Programme (MAWP), which runs from 2014 to 2017, priority will be given to certain types of LIFE project, including: those implementing the circular economy concept; those promoting Green Public Procurement; and those implementing new business models for resource efficiency, amongst others. Ms Ludain recommended that delegates check their project proposals to ensure they fit with the priority areas in the MAWP.

Michel Sponar from the Waste Management & Recycling Unit in the EC's Directorate-General for the Environment (DG Environment) talked about the latest developments and future trends in waste policy and legislation in the European Union (EU).
He explained, "Around 40% of the waste generated in the EU today is covered by recycling targets." The remaining 60% is mining waste and different types of industrial waste covered by sector-specific approaches through best available technology. However, between 2010 and 2030 demand for resources is expected to rise by 40%, resulting in significant pressure on resources and prices. Hence there is an opportunity for better waste management to help meet this demand, since the EU already imports six times more resources than it exports.

A small country took a huge step forward!


A small country took a huge step forward: this year almost 120 000 volunteers had pre-registered for the "TeSzedd! - voluntarily for a cleaner Hungary" in advance. The nomination of TeSzedd! is a wordplay in Hungarian, which could be translated as "YouGrabIt!".
TeSzedd! in 2014 was organized for the fourth time and the action this year was integrated in the "Let's Clean Up Europe!" initiative held in 16 countries of the European Union and in 5 other states that are not member of the EU.
It was the longest and the most successful edition, when the National Waste Management Agency of Hungary could manage to motivate the highest number of volunteers throughout the "TeSzedd! history" to participate in the event setting a good example for citizens of Europe. On 9-11th May approximately 180-200 000 participants picked litter on 1800 different scenes all over the country. According to our statistical data, the clean-up event was organized in about every third city and village of the country. 60 000 students were also pre-registered for the event.

Teszedd! could activate younger and elder generation, as well:

With this impressive result Hungary's performance was also internationally acknowledged. Hungary alone could accomplish the entire four years target of the European Union concerning the number of participants. This expectation was defined in the basic document of the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) four-year-long project. Due to this document the community's previous expectation was 40 000 people per year on EU level. Besides Hungary gave half of the locations that were cleaned up in Europe under the "Let's Clean Up Europe" initiative.

Dr. Sándor Fazekas, the Minister of Rural Development, Dr. András Rácz, the Deputy Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, Zsolt V. Németh, the Minister of State for Rural Development (newly assigned Minister of State for Environmental Affairs) and Dr. Zoltán Illés, the former Minister of State for Environmental Affairs also participated in the events, encouraging participants and organizers, as well. Ksenija ┼ákrilec, the Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia in Hungary also joined a group of volunteers.
In the opening event of "Teszedd!" Oszkár Vámosi, the executive director of the National Waste Management Agency said that the essence of the TeSzedd! event was not in exceeding each other's performance relating to the quantity of the collected litter, but we have to do our best to spread the importance of environmental awareness in the everyday life of more and more people. This year's success also relies on the fact that the event was organized fully from bottom-up: the local coordinators were enthusiastic volunteers who took their job seriously.

Oszkár Vámosi the Executive Director of the NWMA, Antal Jartas the President of the Tender Committee, togheter width some of the winners


In the spring of 2013 the National Waste Management Agency (NWMA) started the revision procedure of the waste management system in Hungary. That was the first step in establishing a new concept that should lead the waste industry to a coherent, integral, innovative path. According to the previous approach waste used to be something bad that had to be handled. Now, the new concept shows us that there are so many unexplored opportunities in it. Waste should be regarded as a resource; since it is continuously generated, it could offer excellent employment possibility for every region, county and municipality. The advantages could be measured in hundreds of millions euros, not to mention other positive effects.
NWMA's clearly defined goal is to spread the idea of resource management instead of waste management across all stakeholders.

Referring to this new concept NWMA worked out the main direction of development of the Hungarian waste management industry as a result of which the System of Industry Development Tenders could also be set up in 2013. A detailed market analysis was carried out last year in the field of those waste streams that fall under the so called "product fee" obligation (namely: packaging, weee, accumulators, tires). These waste streams together with MSW are the ones where collection and treatment are co-financed by NWMA. The basic target of the tender was the development of the waste collection and recycling systems after analyzing the present gaps, lacks and needs of waste management.

Four main fields of industrial development were defined:

  •   Innovation in waste collection systems
  •   Innovation in recycling of waste-tires
  •   Innovation in recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)
  •   Innovation in recycling of packaging waste

There were 17 objectives and 44 sub-objectives defined under these categories. Tenderers could implement projects in the context of these objectives that help the short term improvement of the Hungarian waste recovery in respect of both quantity and quality.
NWMA advertised its first industry development tender on 23th December 2013 with a 5.08 million euro budget. Micro, small and medium-size companies, municipal waste public service providers, municipalities and state bodies could apply for the tender at first place.

16, 49, 246 and 820 thousand euro could be received for the realization of single projects. NWMA wanted to support as many market players as it is possible with this tender construction. The rate of subsidy that can be obtained was at least 50 % to 100 % of the total related costs.
At the end, amongst the submitted tenders 43 could get the needed amount of financing. More than half of the tenderers were public service providers that could win subsidies for the innovation of their separate collection systems under favorable conditions. All together 80 tenders were submitted containing more than 14.4 million euro claim which was around three times more than the available source demonstrating the need for this type of financing opportunity. That is why the NWMA's deliberate intention is to continue this kind of tendering in the future, as well.


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