Writing the new story of plastic: How #zerowastecities experiences and EU policies can work together for higher ambition -

 

conference

Writing the new story of plastic: How #zerowastecities experiences and EU policies can work together for higher ambition

In 2015, the European Union made a pioneering move to introduce the Circular Economy Package, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at reducing the impact of waste generated by European societies. With the European Strategy on Plastics launched in 2018 and the Single-Use Plastics Directive adopted in 2019, the EU has taken important first steps towards reducing the immediate harm that plastics cause to our environment and health. However, the success of these initiatives will depend on how the legislation will be translated into concrete actions on the ground.

The impacts of increased production and consumption of plastic in Europe is only now beginning to be truly understood. The billions of tonnes of plastic that end up in our oceans each year, the pollution plastic waste causes to communities and the natural environment, and the rising of CO2 emissions from extraction and refinement of oil and gas used to produce plastics, are all having dire consequences on our planet and our health. It is more and more clear that the solution to plastic pollution and the waste crises we face today lies within a zero waste approach, therefore it is at the local level where the success or failure of Europe’s transition towards a circular economy will be decided. 

How can we write the new story of plastic together?

Zero Waste Europe and the Rethink Plastic alliance organise a one-day event to try to answer that. The event aims to shine a spotlight on the implementation of EU policies on plastic: looking critically at local level implementation, pointing to gaps in legislation, and analysing possible room to go further towards a zero waste future.

Held in Brussels during Break Free From Plastic’s global week of action, just before the European Week of Waste Reduction, the event convenes a group of leading representatives from the European Commission and Parliament, civil society, business and industry, waste practitioners and local municipality officials from nearby regions. We will examine why local actors are so critical to ensuring the success of the EU’s plastic and circular economy legislation, taking words and ambition in Brussels and translating these into concrete, tangible policies on the ground for communities across the continent.

Organisers:

The Rethink Plastic alliance brings together ten leading European NGOs, representing thousands of active groups, supporters and citizens in every EU Member State. It is part of the global #breakfreefromplastic movement, which consists of over 1,400 NGOs and millions of citizens worldwide. Collectively, this growing global movement systematically addresses the environmental, economic and social impacts of plastic pollution while promoting solutions.

Zero Waste Europe was created to empower communities to rethink their relationship with resources. In a growing number of regions, local groups of individuals, businesses and city officials have taken significant steps towards eliminating waste in our society. Zero Waste Europe engages these groups at two levels: supporting local groups with independent knowledge and streamlined tools to drive change more efficiently, structuring the movement internationally to better represent the interests of our communities at the EU level and engage policymakers with a unified voice.

#breakfreefromplastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, over 1,400 groups from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. These organisations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision.

Programme

10:45 - 11:00

Registration

11:00 - 11:15 a.m

Keynote

The Plastic Paradox: the driving force of plastic

Merijn Tinga

Plastic Soup Surfer

Merijn Tinga is a former biologist and visual artist who turned into a surfing plastic-activist 5 years ago. As the Plastic Soup Surfer he paddled 1000km down the river Rhine on a board made from plastic waste, surfed across the North Sea and foil-windsurfed along the French and Belgium coast. He uses these record attempts to draw attention to the role of legislators and companies in combating plastic pollution; using petitions, resolutions and judicial instruments to push public- and boardroom decisions and opinions. He is a columnist and vlogger and has made several documentaries about the role of plastic and our society. www.PlasticSoupSurfer.org

11:15 - 12:30

Session One | Zero waste cities and businesses: challenges and solutions

The session will focus on actions and initiatives enacted at the local level by municipalities across Europe to reduce and prevent plastic waste. It will outline solutions and point to the advantages of a broader zero waste approach. Speakers will also discuss the limits and barriers that cities face when reducing plastic waste further, drawing attention to the urgent need for redesigning and localising business models, alongside the greater responsibility that should be placed on businesses.

Delphine Levi Alvares

Moderator

Delphine Lévi Alvarès is the European coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement. She has been a driving force behind the development of the movement’s holistic strategy, linking to the broader global movement. She has played a central role in the foundation of the movement since its inception in 2016, uniting more than 80 European organisations under a common vision. Since 2017, Delphine is also the coordinator of the Rethink Plastic alliance, the Brussels based, policy coalition working on plastic pollution issues across the European Union, and which played a crucial role securing ambitious legislation on single-use plastics at the European level. Delphine is based out of Zero Waste Europe which leads the way in connecting the growing zero waste movement to the work of Break Free From Plastic. Prior to her role with the Break Free From Plastic movement she held a number of senior policy roles advocating for zero waste strategies at the national and European level. Additionally she lectured in advocacy at the University of Marne-la-Vallée and in 2014 Delphine co-authored the book ‘The Zero Waste Scenario’.

Marco Mattiello

International Relations Manager, Contarina

Marco joined Contarina in 2013, leading their work on international relations and the development of global projects, having worked in the area of sustainable development since 2006. Contarina is a waste management company serving 49 Municipalities and 560.000 inhabitants in the province of Treviso (Italy). The company, thanks to its integrated waste management model, has achieved an 85% recycling rate and an average of only 57 Kgs/person of residual waste per year. These results make Contarina a best practice model at an international level. Marco was previously appointed Assistant Manager of the Italian Trust Fund (Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea) at the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) in Hungary.

Jack McQuibban

Cities & Communities Programme Coordinator, Zero Waste Europe

Jack has an educational background in international relations having studied at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. For the past 5 years, he has worked for two different NGOs within the international development and sustainability sectors, helping to build movements and communities for change. He has led successful campaigns at the local level within the UK as well as at the global level at institutions such as the United Nations. Jack will be leading our work with municipalities, helping to connect members from across Europe to build and contribute towards the transition of cities towards zero waste strategies.

Emma Priestland

Corporate Campaign Coordinator, Break Free From Plastic

Emma Priestland (London, England) is the Break Free From Plastic Corporate Campaign Coordinator. An early obsession with oceans led to a degree in Marine Biology and several years working as a scuba diving instructor in the Philippines. On returning to Europe, Emma worked to strengthen the European Union’s protection of the oceans by advocating for stronger legislation with the environmental NGO Seas At Risk. Starting in 2012, she focused on marine plastic pollution when there was a very low awareness of the problem. Through campaigning and advocating for new laws, Emma was instrumental in drastically reducing the use of plastic bags across Europe. She also played an important role in passing legislation to ban single use plastic items across the continent. Emma has been involved in the Break Free From Plastic movement since the beginning, and is proud to work with activists from around the world to end the use of throw-away plastic.

Sylvie Droulans

Country Manager Belgium, Réseau Vrac

Réseau Vrac is the only professional organisation dedicated to promoting bulk sales in Europe. Réseau Vrac structures and accelerates the development of this new market to provide access to sustainable and responsible consumption. Réseau Vrac offers its members training, specific tools for bulk professionals (suppliers, traders and project leaders), networks the various actors and plays an advocacy role with the authorities to defend a strong and committed bulk sector. More info: www.reseauvrac.org

12:30 - 13:00 p.m.

Lunch break

13:00 - 13:55 p.m.

Session Two | Catalysing further EU action to support zero waste solutions

The second session will dive into the policies and tools that can support plastic waste prevention and reuse, allowing Zero Waste Cities to blossom across Europe. Speakers will explore the role of targets, quotas, and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in supporting new designs and business models. This session will have the upcoming European Green Deal and new Circular Economy package as a backdrop, with a crucial focus on policy opportunities.

Delphine Levi Alvares

Moderator

Delphine Lévi Alvarès is the European coordinator of the Break Free From Plastic movement. She has been a driving force behind the development of the movement’s holistic strategy, linking to the broader global movement. She has played a central role in the foundation of the movement since its inception in 2016, uniting more than 80 European organisations under a common vision. Since 2017, Delphine is also the coordinator of the Rethink Plastic alliance, the Brussels based, policy coalition working on plastic pollution issues across the European Union, and which played a crucial role securing ambitious legislation on single-use plastics at the European level. Delphine is based out of Zero Waste Europe which leads the way in connecting the growing zero waste movement to the work of Break Free From Plastic. Prior to her role with the Break Free From Plastic movement she held a number of senior policy roles advocating for zero waste strategies at the national and European level. Additionally she lectured in advocacy at the University of Marne-la-Vallée and in 2014 Delphine co-authored the book ‘The Zero Waste Scenario’.

Axel Singhofen

Greens Adviser on Health and Environment Policy

Werner Bosmans

Policy Officer - Circular Economy, DG Environment, European Commission

Werner Bosmans, a Belgian national, graduated as a Bio-engineer at the University of Ghent, Belgium, and obtained a Ph.D. in international economics in Montpellier, France. He also holds a degree in Public Management. After undertaking research at the University of Ghent and at the Belgium Ministry of Agriculture, he worked as assistant to the Secretary-General of the Belgian and then Flemish Ministry of Agriculture. He is also a part-time professor at the ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles). In 2005, he joined the Directorate-General Environment of the European Commission in Brussels. He was responsible for Natural Resource policies, promoting life-cycle thinking to reduce environmental impacts. He helped set up the International Resource Panel together with UNEP. He is one of the authors of the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe and coordinated the European Resource Efficiency Platform (EREP) and work around the Circular Economy. In recent years, he focused on developing the Plastics Strategy and the Directive related to single use plastics in order to reduce the environmental impact of plastic

Juliet Phillips

Oceans Campaigner, Environmental Investigation Agency

Meadhbh Bolger

Resource Justice Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe

Meadhbh Bolger is a resource justice campaigner with Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) - the largest grassroots environmental organisation in Europe - based in Brussels. She is originally from Dublin. Her background is in engineering – she studied and qualified as a civil engineer from University College Dublin in 2011. She worked as an environmental engineer in Australia and in the UK before moving to Brussels in 2015 to take up work on environmental policy with FoEE. She has worked on EU circular economy policy as well as resource justice issues, before moving to focus more specifically on plastics in early 2017. FoEE are a member of the Rethink Plastic alliance along with nine other Europe-wide NGOs.

13:55 - 14:00 p.m

Conclusion

Closing Remarks

Justine Maillot

Zero Waste Europe Consumption & Production Campaigner and Policy Coordinator of Rethink Plastic Alliance

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Supported by the LIFE Programme of the European Union. This website does not necessarily reflect the views of the donors.

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