Each year, €72 billion is wasted as a result of improper implementation of EU waste legislation, according to a report to be published tomorrow (13 January) by the European Commission.
Full implementation of eight items of legislation would also increase the turnover of waste management and recycling industries by €42bn and create 400,000 jobs, according to the study, carried out by Bio Intelligence Service, a consultancy.
But doing so has been hindered by administrative problems and knowledge gaps. Last year, in an assessment of its 2005 strategy on waste prevention, the Commission acknowledged that waste policy and performance varies widely across the EU. Recycling rates range from 70% to 1%. An average of 38% of municipal waste was being recycled in 2008, but full implementation of the legislation could bring this up to 50% by 2020.
The spread in performance is largely geographic, with the worst offenders – including Malta, Greece and Italy – located in the south. Eastern member states are also lagging behind. For example, Lithuania sends more than 90% of its waste to landfill, compared to just 1% in Germany.
Member states recently transposed into law the revised waste framework directive, which involves creating a hierarchy of preference for waste treatment. The Commission is expected to propose improvements in waste law monitoring and enforcement this year.
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