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Helmut Maurer

European Waste Policy and Circular Economy
11 June 3 pm Lecture

Global warming, pollution of the oceans and the waste of resources are acutely threatening the basis of human existence on a global scale. The cause for this is an archaic linear economic model geared toward acquiring raw materials and energy cheaply and, based on this, generating products which need to be replaced in increasingly short intervals, in order to create a continuously high or even an increasing demand. The results of this model are directly visible: ever-growing amounts of waste all over the world being deposited in landfills or incinerated. High-grade recycling is the rare exception. The economy of the future in a world with a population of over 10 billion is calling for a radical change of paradigm.

»The ›great acceleration‹ has exponentially decreased resources and caused climate change and huge amounts of waste. The high level of consumption of 10 billion people by the year 2050 will require a radically different economy which is based on sustainable products, which has reduced waste to a minimum and shares goods rather than owning them individually.«

What we need are globally binding product standards regarding the durability, reparability and modular construction of products. Waste disposal must neither be automatically programmed nor should it be a general rule; it must become an exception. Articles to be disposed of must be recyclable as a matter of principle. Environmental destruction related to production and marketing and the costs for its correction must be factored into the market price of products, and tax systems must be shifted from being based on the taxation of work to a taxation of raw materials and products. All this is can only be achieved through a global and joint effort of the major economic powers. Without these changes, there will be no future for coming generations.


An interview with Helmut Maurer (engl.)
An article by Helmut Maurer (dt.)

Helmut Maurer — Brüssel

Prof. Dr. jur. Maurer is responsible for Sustainable Chemicals at the European Commission. He is a law graduate from Wurzburg University (2. State Exam) 1995 and has a PhD in comparative employment law from Trier University, 1990.
Mr. Maurer worked for several years as an advocate for civil law and public planning law, inter alia in the international law firm Pünder, Volhard, Weber & Axster in Frankfurt. He also had a position as scientific officer at the Institute of Labour Law and Labour Relations in the European Community in Trier. He obtained two tenures as professor in 1990 for civil law and in 2000 on a chair for International Commercial law and European Community law at Georg Simon Ohm Technical University Nuremberg. He joined the European Commission in 2002 as a principal lawyer. He is now a Senior Expert and responsible in DG Environment for questions around circular economy and chemicals.