The UK has been recognised for their great success in significantly reducing the amount of municipal waste going to landfill since 2002.
The European Commission report does single the UK out, however it warns that the UK still remains well behind Europe’s waste management leaders.
Between 2002 and 2009, the UK cut the amount of waste going to landfill from 464kg per capita to 259kg. There are different routes to reducing the land filling of waste, however, the UK have achieved their drastic reduction mostly through waste prevention, reuse, and separate collection for recycling, composting and anaerobic digestion.
It appears difficult to ‘eliminate land filling’ through tax alone, but the landfill tax introduced in 1996 together with the recycling targets and landfill allowance schemes introduced for local authorities, have been vital factors in boosting the above approaches and discouraging the use of landfill in the UK.
The UK have more than doubled the amount of waste per capita recycled and tripled the amount composted between 2002 and 2009. This has brought the UK in line with EU averages for these activities.
Despite the considerable progress made, the UK still remains well behind Europe’s best performers in reducing waste to landfill.
Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Sweden and The Netherlands all land filled less than 3% of their municipal waste in 2010, whilst the UK remained at around 48%. The UK aim to reduce to 10% by 2020 and 5% by 2025.
There are nine member states – Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece and Malta whom still send more than 75% of waste to landfill. France sends 31%, Italy 51% and Spain 58%.
In the EU, waste management and recycling industries had a turnover of €145 billion in 2008, representing around 2 million jobs. A study published earlier this year concluded that full implementation of existing EU waste legislation would save €72 billion a year across the EU, increase the annual turnover of the European waste management and recycling sector by €42 billion and create over 400,000 jobs by 2020.
In 2014, the Commission will publish a review of progress towards EU waste targets and an assessment of whether further EU initiatives in this area are necessary.
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