Waste treatment and disposal in EuropeWhen waste is mismanaged it can cause devastating environmental pollution. Therefore, the EU has a number of waste policies in place to improve waste management efficiency, innovate recycling, and limit the disposal of waste at landfill sites. Landfills can cause many environmental issues like land use, air pollution, and soil pollution. However, landfill deposits in the EU are still common.
Despite this, EU targets and the introduction of the Circular Economy Strategy have seen the recycling rate of municipal waste increase considerably since the turn of the century, rising from 25 percent to almost 50 percent. Recycling differs from country to country, with the highest recycling rate in the EU recorded in Germany at 66.7 percent. In comparison, the rate of recycling in France and the United Kingdom are lower than 50 percent. Rates differ depending on the material too. The recycling rate of packaging waste now stands at roughly 66 percent, with paper and cardboard packaging the most recycled packaging material in the EU. Recent years have seen pressure grow to improve the recycling of plastics due to its environmental impacts, but plastic packaging recycling rates currently stand at 42 percent.
Another waste stream that is steadily gaining more attention is electronic waste - or e-waste- , which is the fastest growing waste stream worldwide. Europeans produce the most electronic waste per capita worldwide, at 16.2 kilograms per person on average. However, the share of European e-waste documented to be collected and properly recycled remains low, especially in Eastern Europe. Globally, e-waste is estimated to hold billions of dollars’ worth of materials such as copper, gold, and silver that could be reused or recycled.