According to a new survey, EU citizens generated an average of 522kg of municipal waste per person in 2007. The European Environment Agency (EEA) predicts that this amount will rise to some 680kg by 2020 if current consumption patterns prevail.
In a survey published yesterday (9 March), EU statistical office Eurostat shows that the waste produced across member states “varies significantly”.
Waste generated per person varied from 294kg in the Czech Republic to 801kg in Denmark, reflecting differences in consumption behaviour as municipal waste consists to a large extent of household waste.
After the Danes, the Irish (786kg) and Cypriots (754kg) generated the most waste, while citizens in Romania, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia produced less than 400kg per person.
The total amount of municipal waste comprises rubbish collected by municipal authorities and disposed of by the waste management system. In addition to household waste, it includes waste from small business and offices. Agricultural and industrial waste is excluded.
According to the same statistics, waste treatment methods vary significantly across the EU 27. The highest recycling rates for municipal waste were observed in Germany (46%), Belgium (39%) and Sweden (37%). But Bulgaria buries 100% of its municipal waste underground (landfill), followed by Romania (99%), Lithuania (96%), Malta (93%) and Poland (90%).
Other treatment methods include incineration and composting. The former is popular in Denmark (53%), Luxembourg (47%) and Sweden (47%), and the latter in Austria (38%) and Italy (33%).
The EEA predicts 25% growth in city waste between 2005 and 2020, “driven by several factors, such as economic activity, demographic changes, technological innovations, lifestyle and patterns of production and consumption”. The average European’s share is expected to soar to 680kg, “primarily due to an assumed sustained growth in private final consumption and a continuation of current trends in consumption patterns”.
Waste and recycling policies are a cornerstone of EU environmental protection efforts, while the bloc’s Waste Framework Directive was revised recently (EURACTIV 18/06/08).