Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Don’t Waste Waste

The next phase of the European Commission's 'Generation Awake' campaign has just been launched (4 February). The campaign focuses on the environmental, economic, social and personal consequences of using resources unsustainably. With its own focus on resource efficiency and enabling the circular economy the SPIRE PPP is a big supporter of the campaign

The ‘Generation Awake’ campaign aims to make consumers aware of the consequences their consumption patterns have on natural resources, illustrating the benefits if they choose to act differently.

The latest phase in the campaign centres round a fully interactive, multi-lingual website and features animated characters that highlight the environmental impact of everyday purchasing decisions (see video below).

“SPIRE is proud to support the ‘Generation Awake’ campaign,” said Loredana Ghinea, Executive Director of A.SPIRE – the body coordinating the SPIRE PPP. “The campaign emphasises that all our futures depend on the choices we make about resources now. The SPIRE PPP is all about improving energy and resource efficiency within industry and through that for our entire society. And individual choices are as important as those made by corporations and institutions. Only through a united effort can be we reach our sustainability objectives.”

Resourceful Campaign
The Generation Awake campaign makes it clear that the choices you make individually can make a world of difference. The campaign is all about opening people’s eyes to the consumer choices they make and the consequences these have on the earth’s natural resources. By engaging with Generation Awake, citizens become more aware that these choices not only change their world, but our planet too.

Our future depends on how we use resources now and the campaign highlights the impact of our behaviour on natural resources such as water, fertile soils, clean air and biodiversity: as resources become scarcer, we put our future welfare at risk.

The multi-billion Sustainable Process Industry Public-Private Partnership (SPIRE PPP),  which was officially launched on 17 December as part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation initiative, brings together eight European process industries and aims at integrating, demonstrating and validating systems and technologies across sectors.

SPIRE will achieve its goals by investing in breakthrough technologies to reduce the resources and energy used in processes as well as minimising industrial emissions and waste. The PPP will reuse resources and materials from end-of-life products to provide raw materials for new products and will replace current feedstock by integrating renewables or waste - for example biomass and even CO2.

Resource efficiency
“Resource efficiency is about using resources sustainably – doing more, much more, with less and minimising impacts on the environment,” continues Loredana (pictured right). “It is about making the right choices to ensure a good quality of life, not just for now, but for the generations to come. The SPIRE strategic research and innovation roadmap to 2030 dedicates one of its four technological pillars to waste. The process industry is central to transforming waste into a valuable resource not only at a product’s end-of-life phase but, especially, during the production process itself and across industrial sectors.”

“Becoming resource-efficient means changing our way of thinking and patterns of behaviour and taking account of how our choices affect natural resources. It’s not about consuming less – it’s about consuming differently,” she concludes.

Despite EU-wide recycling targets and successes in certain areas, Europe's waste is still a hugely under-used resource. A study prepared for the Commission estimates that full implementation of EU waste legislation would save €72 billion a year, increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by € 42 billion, and create over 400 000 new jobs by 2020.

The Generation Awake website invites visitors to discover the value of waste, showing how it can be reused, recycled, exchanged and repaired rather than being thrown away. A related Facebook page invites citizens to take up challenges like reducing food waste and cutting water use. Anyone can join in, and everyone is encouraged to spread the message: waste which cannot be avoided can become a valuable resource, and saving resources means saving money.

Serious message
Behind the light-hearted campaign is a serious message: waste often contains valuable materials that can be reintroduced into the economic system. Today, a significant amount of potential secondary raw material is lost to the European Union's economy due to poor waste management. On average the amount of waste produced each year is equivalent to five tonnes per citizen.

By reducing, reusing and recycling waste we can all contribute to a vibrant economy and a healthy environment. This saves environmental and economic resources, helping push Europe towards a more circular economy, where we get the greatest value out of resources and products by repairing, re-using, re-manufacturing and recycling them.

The campaign targets 25-to 40-year-olds with a special focus on young urban adults and families with small children. Since its launch in October 2011, the campaign website has been visited over 750 000 times, the videos have been viewed by over 4.5 million people, and the Facebook page has attracted close to 100 000 fans.

This new phase of the campaign includes a photo competition for suggestions on turning rubbish into a resource. The winner will be awarded a trip to Copenhagen, the European Green Capital 2014.

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