EU Forecast: Waste to be Cut to Avoid “Rubbish Tsunami” Engulfing World

Written by | Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

The European Commission is finalizing a new policy proposal that will aim to reduce litter and promote recycling in order to achieve a zero-refuse economy. According to Karl Falkenberg, the chief of the EU Commission’s environment directorate, the way in which the Western societies have produced and consumed is not sustainable anymore. Mr Falkenberg further warned that the world must cut down on waste or face severe environmental consequences. He added that the world was going to be struck by a “tsunami of rubbish if all those additional people coming to this planet” – referring to the population growth in the developing world – start consuming “like we do in Europe”.  This however requires that we make sure that the waste is not a dirty marginal side-product of economic activity, but instead, rubbish should be put at the center of a circular economy.
Mr Falkenberg further believes that a European regulator should play a central role in setting environmental policy targets because industries, municipalities, consumers, or businesses are not moving fast enough to bring about needed changes. According to the proposed revision of the related legislation, the recycling objective could increase up to 70 percent and a landfill ban. Yet, among the Commission’s biggest challenges is streamlining waste collection and recycling schemes across EU member states. The EU’s 2008 waste initiative – Waste Framework Directive – pushes for recycling of at least a half of household waste by 2020. Yet, the legislation, which calls for an EU-wide “recycling society” has not succeeded to reach all parts of the EU. For instance, according to the last year’s report by “Friends of the Earth Europe”, Bulgaria is the EU’s number one waste producer dumping all of its municipal trash. In contrast, Germany is the EU’s greenest economy with the recycling rate of 45 percent and dumping none of its waste.

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