Millennials will stand up for a Circular Culture if EU Member States don't

Slogans, such as « Change the system, not the climate » or « You prefer your planet blue or well-done? » helped the home appliance industry to see that manufacturers are not on their own in the mission of creating a Circular Culture. Read more how APPLiA's presence at an event about WEEE treatment standards gave us food for thought.

The consciousness of the need to protect the environment has been on the rise all over Europe and beyond. Social media initiatives have finally started leaving the network space and thousands of young people in Belgium have decided to step up for the climate. Slogans, such as « Change the system, not the climate » or « You prefer your planet blue or well-done? » helped the home appliance industry to see that manufacturers are not on their own in the mission of creating a Circular Culture.

Appliances have inner values. A washing machine today consists of nearly 50% fully recyclable steel and one-fifth of an air conditioner is made out of valuable and expensive material, such as copper. In the ideal scenario, after many years of use, these products will be handled by established by the sector take-back schemes and will start a new life as a plane, as laptop or a toaster. The lucky ones that will be collected and recycled by the industry according to the best available technology and standards, however, are only around one-third of the 5 million tonnes of generated electrical waste per year. The fate of the other two-thirds remains unknown, making the path of some appliances quite linear instead of circular.

Industry schemes and applicable minimum treatment standards have been handling their bit successfully. Standards increase the recovery rates from waste, protect workers and ensure that the processes are respectful to the environment. But how could you take care of a product if it does not reach you? “Simply making the application of standards mandatory is not enough. Only proper enforcement will deter actors who may otherwise opt for sub-standard treatment in pursuit of mere profit”, the Director General of APPLiA, Paolo Falcioni told representatives from EU Member states and other key stakeholders during an event organised by the association of electrical and electronic waste take back systems, WEEE Forum.

The simple rules of a Circular Culture society are that everyone has to do the best of his bit. EU Member States must put in place appropriate measures to ensure that their individual obligations are fulfilled. To do this all actors handling WEEE should be subject to the same requirements in terms of reporting collected and treated quantities. “Achieving the new WEEE collection targets set for 2019 and onwards will only be possible when all quantities of e-waste handled by other economic operators are identified and accounted for and the proper disposal by the consumer is tackled”, Paolo Falcioni stated.

And if the position of the industry is being seen as biased, the pure motivation of 16-years-old boys and girls to live on a green planet is not. For a first time, the home appliance industry will count on the ones who have the potential to lead the change.

In a couple of weeks, APPLiA’s Manifesto will draw a clear vision on how the 2019-2024 EU term could make a true difference because millennials will surely stand up for a Circular Culture and sustainability if policy leaders don't. 

Follow the #BetterLifestyles and #EuropeansWantToKnow hashtags or send them to your children, they will understand.