Dr. Ludwig Intelligent Projects GmbH“, Bonn Director for International Affairs of the German Association for Waste Management (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Abfallwirtschaft DGAW e.V.), Berlin
Dr. Ludwig studied Industrial Engineering at the Technical University Darmstadt and he has a doctorate in political sciences and public law. He works as a consultant since 2002 and since 2010 he has been involved in international waste management and circular economy projects and research. His customers are from the private sector and from the public sector from municipalities to the EU level. In 2021 he analysed for a customer the waste management sector of Cyprus and actually is a leading researcher for the implementation of the Green Deal of the EU. Actual topic: industrial needs for closing circles of various product life cycles and waste streams.
With the European Green Deal the European Union and its member states are striving to become the first climate-neutral continent (including Cyprus) in the near future. To reach this aim „The European Commission has adopted a set of proposals to make the EU’s climate, energy, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.“ The reduction of these emissions should be done intelligently and not just in the form of radical restrictions on consumption. There can be no “business as usual” and merely cosmetic measures will not help to stop climate change and thus prevent damage that is devastating to humanity. Policies alone are not sufficient enough to reach the goals. Great efforts by all social groups, authorities and related to the economy, all sectors, are necessary to achieve the reduction goal. In detail the commission and the member states intend to implement a circular economy that fulfils the tasks to reduce the emissions as a new form of economy. Producers, consumers and the waste management sector have to contribute to this in case it should be successful. Ecological design and recycling are well-known tags. But if we look into detail the case is not that easy. Actually we do not know exactly how to run products in circles so that products or parts of products follow the life cycle paths that cause the lowest emissions. It is already clear that this will result in a large number of circles going back to different points in a life cycle for each product. Emissions from the extraction of raw materials through to waste disposal must be taken into account.
This means, that totally new industries have to be developed to close the circles and if so, how would that change the actual market players like the waste management sector? There was a slight misunderstanding cause by the waste directive of 2015, that the waste management sector would be the main player in a circular economy and therefore the recycling of materials was seen as a synonym for circular economy. But „recycling“ is just one of the lower levels of circular economy.
Waste Management needs to be newly integrated into the life cycles. There will always be traditional waste but in what quantities and at which point of time? New players will close life cycles before the waste sector gets the used products. But the activities and the real investments into new industries will depend on the stream volume within one circle. Therefore investments in a small country like Cyprus might have to be discussed and whether a circular economy has to be implemented in a different way in an island situation than for instance in a highly populated continental setting. And it could be discussed which life cycles could be closed within Cyprus, also under consideration of the tourism industry, and which traditional ways have to be followed in Cyprus due to the island situation and the expected quantities.