Bernal Institute Research Forum

Date: 5th March 2018 to 5th March 2018
Time: 11:00 to 12:00
Duration: One hour
Location: MSG-025 MSSI Building Extension

Dr Antonis Zorpas, Open University of Cyprus, Cyprus.

How the Proposed EU Strategy of Circular Economy Contributes to Environmental ‘Footprint’.

The 2008 Waste Framework Directive sets the overarching legislative framework. It defines the main concepts linked to waste management, including the “polluter pays principle” (ensuring that the costs of preventing, controlling and cleaning up pollution are reflected in the cost of goods), the “waste hierarchy” (a priority order set among waste prevention and management options and the “end-of-waste criteria” (i.e. when waste ceases to be waste after recovery). The Directive sets binding targets to be achieved by 2020: preparing for reuse and recycling of 50% of certain waste materials from households and similar sources, and preparing for reuse, recycling and other recovery of 70% of construction and demolition waste. It also requires Member States to set up separate collection of at least paper, metal, plastic and glass waste where “technically, environmentally and economically practicable”, and to draw up waste management plans and waste prevention programmes. Moreover, an ambitious target requires significant effort from several quarters including political parties, NGOs, Universities, Local Authorities, public participation from several target groups etc. The EU has developed and promotes an ambitious new Circular Economy Package to help European businesses and consumers make the transition to a stronger and more circular economy where resources are used in a more sustainable way. A Circular Economy encourages more sustainable and environmentally sound use of resources aimed at the implementation of a greener economy, characterized by a new business model and innovative employment opportunities. A Circular Economy has the potential to recognize and implement fundamentally new patterns and help society reach increased sustainability and wellbeing at low or no material, environmental and energy costs. The targets set are up to 65% for recycling of municipal waste by 2030; 75% for recycling of packaging waste by 2030; a binding landfill target to reduce landfill to a maximum of 10% of municipal waste by 2030; a ban on landfilling of separately collected waste; concrete measures to promote re-use and stimulate industrial symbiosis – turning one industry’s by-product into another industry’s raw material etc. Therefore, the main research question nowadays is “can we really adapt to the concept of a Circular Economy” if the Circular Economy has most often been considered only as an approach to more appropriate waste management. Such a limited point of view may lead the Circular Economy to fail, in that some recycling, reuse or recovery options may either not be appropriate in a given context while instead fitting other situations and, more than that, some conversion options based on green chemistry and biotechnology may end up being much more expensive and impacting than the conventional technology addressed, which calls for prevention more than treatment.

Dr Antonis Zorpas holds an MSc (1995) in Chemical Engineering and a PhD in Environmental Management and Engineering (2000). He is actively engaged with several Universities, Research Institutes in Europe as well as with the DG Environment in the European Commission. He lectures at Cyprus Open University (Faculty of Pure and Applied Science and he is the Head of the Lab of Chemical Engineering and Engineering Sustainability). He is the Academic coordinator of the Masters Program of Environmental Conservation and Management. He has more than 350 publications (including editor in scientific books, scientific papers in journals and international conferences). For more than 20 years, he was acting as Consulting Engineer on behalf of several industrial activities, government and local authorities. Since 2013 he is the President of Cyprus Environmental Engineers Council, is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Office of the Cyprus Commissioner for the Environment and also is an elected member of the Senate of his University. He sits on the Board of experts on the EURASHE (European Association of Institutions in Higher Education) Committee in Brussels. His research background is in the area of biosolids treatment and management, advanced chemical oxidation, optimization of wastewater treatment plant for the production of energy, hazardous waste treatment, waste minimization monitoring and evaluation, strategic planning development, zero waste approach, waste prevention activities, social behaviour, city metabolism and circular economy, household and solid waste management, Life Cycle Analysis and Environmental Risk analysis.

Tea/coffee will be available at 10h45

For further information, please contact: tony.pembroke@ul.ie