Loss of recoverable resources in linear resource flow systems is likely to contribute to the depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation. The ‘waste hierarchy’ in the European Commission’s latest Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC (WFD2008) makes recommendations on how to address this issue. The WFD2008 is analysed in this work for its adequacy in ensuring return of ‘recoverable waste’ as a ‘resource’ into the productive system. Despite the release of guidance documents by the DG Environment, DEFRA and WRAP UK on the interpretation of key provisions of the WFD2008, lack of clarity still exists around the WFD2008 ‘waste hierarchy’. There is also an overlap between measures such as ‘prevention’ and ‘reduction’, ‘preparing for reuse’ and ‘reuse’ and lack of clarity on why the measure of ‘reuse’ is included in the WFD2008 definition of ‘prevention’. Finally, absence of the measures of ‘recovery’ and ‘reuse’ from the WFD2008 ‘waste hierarchy’ reduces its effectiveness as a resource efficiency tool. Without clarity on the WFD2008 ‘waste hierarchy’, it is challenging for decision makers to take direct action to address inefficiencies existing within their operations or supply chains. This paper proposes the development of an alternative ‘hierarchy of resource use’ and alternative ‘definitions’ that attempt to fill identified gaps in the WFD2008 and bring clarity to the key measures of waste prevention, reduction and recovery. This would help the key stakeholders in driving resource effectiveness, which in turn would assist in conservation of natural resources and prevention of environmental degradation.
Gharfalkar, M., Court, R., Campbell, C., Ali, Z., & Hillier, G. (2015). Analysis of waste hierarchy in the European waste directive 2008/98/EC. Waste Management, 39, 305-313. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2015.02.007