P&G plugs integrated waste management

Life-cycle approach to waste should replace reliance on rigid hierarchy insists consumer products firm

The EU's sixth environmental action programme (6EAP) should usher in widespread adoption of integrated waste management, consumer products giant Procter and Gamble said today at the launch in Brussels of a textbook giving practical examples of how the concept is being implemented at local level.

Integrated waste management (IWM) deploys life-cycle analysis techniques to show policy-makers the environmental and socio-economic consequences of different waste treatment options, allowing them to choose the best for their local conditions. Its proponents believe IWM is the ideal tool to achieve sustainability in waste management and EU business has enthusiastically picked up the idea (ENDS Daily 28 March 2000).

The concept is being used as industry's weapon in a battle with the European Commission over the future of the EU waste hierarchy, which promotes waste prevention and recycling over incineration and landfill. The hierarchy has long been criticised by business for limiting firms' flexibility to deal with waste, notably packaging waste under a 1994 directive.

The case studies outlined in the book show that sticking to the hierarchy "doesn't always give you the optimal solution," according to P&G sustainable development director and co-author Peter White. Using IWM enabled the twelve authorities to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill at no extra cost, the book shows.

With a revision of the packaging directive imminent and a "thematic strategy" on waste promised under the proposed 6EAP, however, the European Commission is still defending the hierarchy. "If correctly understood, it will deliver the same result as LCAs," Paul McAleavey, environment commissioner Margot Wallström's advisor on waste management said at the launch.

Follow Up:
P&{G}, tel: +32 2 456 4511. The report is entitled "Integrated Solid Waste Management: a Life-Cycle Inventory".

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