EU – A new report on EU member states’ municipal waste management performance has revealed startling differences.
Top of the table are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, whereas the states with the largest implementation gaps are Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, for whom failings include poor or non-existent waste prevention policies, a lack of incentives to divert waste from landfills, and inadequate waste infrastructure. A heavy reliance on landfilling means better waste management options such as reuse and recycling are consistently underexploited, it is suggested.
By contrast, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden operate comprehensive waste collection systems and landfill less than 5% of their waste. They have well-developed recycling systems and sufficient treatment capacity, and perform well with biodegradable waste. Typically, they blend legal, administrative and economic instruments to good effect in their waste management policies, according to the report.
A number of member states have made rapid progress from reliance on landfilling to its virtual elimination. But even the best performers face a number of challenges such as stepping up waste prevention and addressing overcapacity in the incineration sector, which may hamper recycling and require imports of waste to feed incinerators.
The European Commission is using this report to prepare roadmaps for the 10 worst-performing member states. These will be discussed with national authorities at bilateral seminars this autumn, starting in Prague on September 19. The roadmaps will help spread best practices and will contain tailor-made recommendations on how to improve waste management using economic, legal and administrative tools, in addition to EU structural funds.
A recent study prepared for the European Commission estimates that full implementation of EU waste legislation would: save Euro 72 billion a year; increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by Euro 42 billion; and create more than 400 000 jobs by 2020.