Brussels, 7 August 2012
Environment: a new medals table for waste management
A new report on how Member States manage their municipal waste shows startling differences across the EU. The report grades the 27 Member States against 18 criteria, using green, orange and red flags in areas such as total waste recycled, pricing of waste disposal, and infringements of European legislation. The resulting scoreboard forms part of an on-going study that will help Member States improve their waste management performance. Top of the table are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, none of which have more than 2 red flags. But the pattern is reversed at the other end of the scale, where green flags are scarce.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "The picture that emerges from this exercise confirms my strong concerns. Many Member States are still landfilling huge amounts of municipal waste – the worst waste management option – despite better alternatives, and despite structural funds being available to finance better options. Valuable resources are being buried, potential economic benefits are being lost, jobs in the waste management sector are not being created, and human health and the environment suffer. This is hard to defend in our present economic circumstances."
The Member States with the largest implementation gaps are Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Failings include poor or non-existent waste prevention policies, a lack of incentives to divert waste from landfills, and inadequate waste infrastructure. Heavy reliance on landfilling means that better waste management options such as re-use and recycling are consistently underexploited. The outlook is accordingly poor.
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden by contrast have comprehensive waste collection systems and landfill less than 5 % of their waste. They have well developed recycling systems, sufficient treatment capacity, and they perform well with biodegradable waste. Typically, they blend legal, administrative and economic instruments to good effect in their waste management policies.
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 Commission is using this report to prepare Roadmaps for the ten worst performing Member States. These will be discussed with national authorities at bilateral seminars this autumn, starting in Prague on 19 September. 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, and EU structural funds.
The Commission is looking to use EU structural funds with a greater focus on the objectives of EU waste policy. The proposed Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020 will ensure that EU money is only invested in waste management projects if certain conditions are met beforehand, including the development of Waste Management Plans in accordance with the Waste Framework Directive and with the waste hierarchy, favouring prevention, reuse and recycling over incineration with energy recovery, with landfilling or incineration without energy recovery as a last resort.
A recent study prepared for the Commission estimates that full implementation of EU waste legislation would save €72 billion a year, increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by €42 billion and create over 400,000 jobs by 2020 (details available here).
For more information:
For the Screening Report, see:
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/studies/pdf/Screening_report.pdf (the scorecard is in colour on page 41)
For more waste studies, see:
Eurostat Environmental Data Centre on Waste:
Commission website on waste management:
Press Release on Green Growth:
Press Release on economic instruments:
Notes on the table:
0 signifies a red flag, 1 an orange flag and 2 a green flag – i.e. the higher the score the better. As criteria 1.3, 1.4 and 1.5 are related to the actual performances of the Member States in terms of results achieved, they count double (D) in the scoring.
Criteria in full
1.1 Level of decoupling of municipal waste generation from household final consumption expenditure
1.2 Existence of own waste prevention programme (WPP) or equivalent existence in Waste Management Plan or other (environmental) programmes
1.3. Amount of municipal waste recycled (material recycling and other forms of recycling including composting)
1.4. Amount of municipal waste recovered (energy recovery)
1.5. Amount of municipal waste disposed (deposit onto or into land and incinerated without energy recovery)
1.6. Development of municipal waste recycling (material recycling and other forms of recycling including composting)
2.1. Existence of nationwide ban/restrictions for the disposal of municipal waste into landfills
2.2. Total typical charge for the disposal of municipal waste in a landfill
2.3. Existence of pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) systems for municipal waste
3.1. Access to waste collection services for municipal waste
3.2. Available treatment capacity for municipal waste in line with the EU waste legislation (including disposal and incineration)
3.3. Forecast of municipal waste generation and treatment capacity in the Waste Management Plan
3.4. Existence and quality of projection of municipal waste generation and treatment in the Waste Management Plan
3.5. Compliance of landfills for non-hazardous waste with Landfill Directive
4.1 Fulfilment of the targets of the Landfill Directive related to biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill
4.2. Rate of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfills
5.1. Number of infringement procedures – Waste Framework Directive and Landfill Directive
5.2. Number of court cases – Waste Framework Directive and Landfill Directive