Prevent-reuse-recycle/recover

The European Commission‘s report on the EU’s performance in preventing waste and recycling it is giving some very interesting insights and I have researched some more facts on EuroStat.

  • Some states make good progress but are still a far way off a recycling society (i.e. One that not just avoids but profits from its waste)
  • Generally waste is, at best, stabilizing (at a high level) at a lower rate than economic growth
  • Municipal waste has now stabilized at 524 kg per year per person
  • Household consumption has grown over the same period of time (10 years) by 16%
  • in 2008 Germany, U.K. and Turkey have the highest absolute amount of household waste (34,4-28,4 Mio tonnes)
  • 25% of all food bought is discarded as waste
  • In the U.K., a third of all food bought is discarded as waste (4,1 Mio. Tonnes), a tenth of that still being in date!
  • Were 60% of this waste avoided, an average household could save up to 500€/a
  • In Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Slovakia) over 60% of all package waste is package recycled (2008)
  • All package waste regarded, Lichtenstein has the highest amount generated per captia-500 kg, second being France with 200 kg per capita (2008)
  • Least package waste was generated in Bulgaria-40 kg per capita (2008)small_recycle.gif
  • While in some states land filling has almost disappeared, other do still bury 90% of their waste into the ground-poising water and destroying land
  • Electro waste is the fastest growing stream of waste– Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany collect most – 8 kg per capita

Concerning this last stream of rubbish, it has to be considered that this type (old phones, computers ect.)  often consists of precious metal scarce in Europe, such as gold, platinum, palladium and copper. Collecting such material better could create new jobs and revenue.

The new Waste Framework Directive, which should have been transposed by 12 December 2010, has still not passed into national law in many EU countries. Member States had a transitional period of two years to put the necessary measures in place to comply with the new Directive.

Many EU countries are yet to inform the Commission of the transposition of the legislation. The Directive introduces a binding waste hierarchy defining the order of priority for treating waste. co2.gif
The basic idea is simple: prevent-reuse-recycle/recover-landfill (last resort). Organic waste in landfills has to be reduced to 75% by 2010, 50% by 2013 and 35% by 2020 (reference year is 1995 =100%). That waste could be turned into useful heat by incineration at least! By 2013 member states have to set up waste prevention programs and recycle 50% of their municipal waste and 70% of construction and demolition waste by 2020. They have to be implemented properly!
Better waste management will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions – estimates show that between 146 to 244 megatonnes of CO2 could be avoided, equalling 19-31% of European climate targets for 2020!

This shows how important an issue this really is, and how many things are connected to the way we treat the waste we create.

  • Job-creation in recycling industry-up to half a million jobs have been estimated
  • Retrieval of precious material (gold, copper,..)-greater resource efficiency
  • Less land and ground water destroyed by landfills
  • Less energy or natural oil needed to produce the waste in the first place
  • About a third of binding targets for CO2 reduction could be achieved in such a way

Therefore consider what you buy and how you deal with what turns into waste! It really does make a difference and is important!

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