The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
It also organises several annual initiatives and events with a focus on civil society and citizens’ participation such as the Civil Society Prize, the Civil Society Days, the Your Europe, Your Say youth plenary and the ECI Day.
The EESC brings together representatives from all areas of organised civil society, who give their independent advice on EU policies and legislation. The EESC's326 Members are organised into three groups: Employers, Workers and Various Interests.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in concrete topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations or the internal market.
Along with other institutions and stakeholders across the EU, the EESC supports waste reduction through a number of in-house initiatives. The Committee was the first EU body to have a plastic-free canteen and runs a food donation scheme, in cooperation with the Belgian NGO Source.
Together with the Committee of the Regions, the EESC has also put in place an action plan to reduce waste and to apply green public procurement criteria in their activities, through initiatives to reduce their environmental footprint. In 2011, the EESC received the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) certification, a voluntary scheme to encourage businesses and public-sector organisations to improve their environmental performance.
At a meeting of the EESC's Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption, Cillian Lohan, EESC member and CEO of the Green Economy Foundation, reiterated the importance of this topic. He stated that A cultural change is required, a change in our day to day behaviour; it's a challenge, but it's doable, as the history of human development is all about changing our behaviour.
Mr Lohan also explained that one factor making the EESC so active in tackling waste production is its high level of member involvement. The EESC has done a lot in this field and it has contributed to a change by adding all these initiatives to its activities, said Mr Lohan, who was the rapporteur for two opinions adopted by the EESC in 2017 on "Waste-to-energy under the Circular Economy" and the "Ecodesign working plan 2016-2019".
Together with the European Commission, the EESC also hosts the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform. This initiative was launched in 2017, with the aim of creating a meeting point that allows participants to exchange, interact, and "make the circular economy happen faster to the benefit of all".
The platform gives access to existing strategies for the transition to a circular economy adopted at national, regional or local level by public authorities. It also showcases examples of good practice, innovative processes and 'learning from experience' case-studies provided by stakeholders, as well as news, research, reports and other useful materials.
This platform is a huge success and shows the high level of engagement of the different sectors, said Mr Lohan, who gave a few practical examples of successful initiatives. Among them, the British company Waterhaul, which produces sunglasses from recycled ocean plastic or fishing nets, and the Swedish business re:newcell, which has developed technology to create clothes using recycled natural fibres while saving water and reducing emissions. The complete list of shared initiatives is available on the Circular Economy Stakeholders Platform website.
The European Week for Waste Reduction is an initiative created in 2009 that aims to promote awareness-raising communication actions in the course of a single week every year, usually the last week of November.
The European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) targets the problem of excessive waste production in Europe, which makes it harder for Europe to achieve its sustainable development goals. Every European citizen produces on average more than 503 kg of municipal waste. The quantity varies among Member States, rising to more than 700 kg per capita in certain countries. Studies show that the climate benefits of waste prevention, preparing for reuse and recycling clearly outweigh the use of any other waste treatment solution.
The objective of the Communication on the role of waste-to-energy in the circular economy is to ensure that the recovery of energy from waste in the EU is consistent with the objectives pursued in the Circular Economy Action Plan.
EESC opinion: Waste-to-energy under the Circular Economy