Commission points out the mismanaged landfills in the EU

The Commission organised a seminar to spot the good and the bad managers of landfills and is taking legal action against 36 landfills in seven Member States.

The Commission organised a “Name, Shame and Fame” seminar on landfills on Tuesday, 1 October. The aim of the seminar was to consider how to reach a better implementation of the EU legislation on landfills. Margot Wallström, Commissioner for Environment, wants to raise awareness among operators and the public about the importance of managing waste properly.

Currently, seven member states are being pursued for not managing landfills correctly. Greece and Spain top the “shame” list (with 10 cases each), followed by Italy (with 8 cases), Ireland (5 cases), the UK, France and Germany (1 case each).


The EU has developped several legislative instruments to regulate waste management throughout the years:

  • the Waste Framework Directive was first drafted in 1975 and then revised in 1991. It states general obligations to prevent waste from endangering the human health or the environment;
  • the Landfill Directive lays down more specific requirements for the design, operation, closure and after-care of landfills.

EU waste legislation is based on a list of priorities for waste policies, the so-called waste hierarchy: first prevention, then recovery (re-use, recycling or energy recovery) and finally safe disposal.

Every EU citizen generates 540 kilos of municipal waste per year on average. Waste management for municipal waste in the the EU as a whole breaks down to landfilling 57%, incineration 16%, recycling 13%, composting 7%.


The Landfill Directive sets the following deadlines:

  • 2004: ban of co-disposal (no more landfilling of hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste together);
  • 2006: reduction to 75% of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfills (50% in 2009 and 35% in 2016 compared to amounts produced in 1995);
  • until 2009 to adapt all existing landfills.



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