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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 15 November 2013

Environment: European Week for Waste Reduction begins

We talk about the importance of the "3Rs" – encouraging citizens to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – but it is the first R that is the most important. For the next 7 days the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) will be putting this in the spotlight. The aim is to increase awareness about how we can change habits in Europe, and also to encourage debate on issues of resource efficiency and circular economy. The project, coordinated by the Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and Sustainable Waste Management (ACR+) and supported by the EU's LIFE+ programme, now covers 17 countries, including 3 non-EU Member States.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "There is enormous potential in reusing and recycling waste. We are making great progress in moving up the waste hierarchy… reducing landfilling and increasing recycling. Grassroots initiatives like the European Week of Waste Reduction are an important way of involving everyone in the creation of a zero-waste society."

The European Week for Waste Reduction, which runs from 16 to 24 November, is proposing new ways to spread the word about reducing waste, reusing products and recycling materials. The aim is to develop and test communication tools that target administrations and associations, businesses, schools, and individual citizens. Activities will peak during the Waste Prevention Thematic Days, which this year focus on Reuse, with local activities such as second-hand markets, repair workshops and swap parties.

Linked to the EWWR, a European Clean-Up Day will be launched to take place on – and around - 10 May 2014. “Let’s Clean Up Europe” will challenge volunteers to clean up waste in their neighbourhoods and on beaches. The aim is not only to clear up litter, but to generate a debate about waste and how we manage it.

European citizens generate over 500 kg of municipal waste per person every year, but this ranges from just over 300 kg in some Member States to more than 700 kg in others. On average half of this is recycled, but there are enormous differences between Member States. In some Member States, landfilling has disappeared and recycling rates reach 70 %, while others recycle very little and landfill over 90% of their municipal waste. Consumers and households have a vital role to play in reducing waste through shopping habits, reuse and waste sorting.


Launched in 2009, the EWWR originally focused on raising awareness of waste prevention. Over the four past editions, the Week has seen a growing success in Europe (and beyond), implementing over 25,000 communication actions in 28 countries and developing a network of public and private actors working in the field of waste prevention.

Actions will take place in Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iceland.

The Waste Framework Directive gives priority to prevention, reuse and recycling over incineration, with landfilling or incineration without energy recovery the last resort. A study prepared for the Commission estimates that full implementation of EU waste legislation would save EUR 72 billion a year, increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by EUR 42 billion and create over 400 000 jobs by 2020.

The European Commission is carrying out a review of its waste targets, the result of which will feed into a policy review in 2014.

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Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)

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