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EU citizens throw away increasing amounts of waste for fourth year in a row: report

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By Amy Chung
EU citizens throw away increasing amounts of waste for fourth year in a row: report
Copyright  Pixabay

The amount of rubbish generated on average in the EU has been gradually increasing in recent years despite growing awareness and the Commission's war on waste, according to a Eurostat study.

In 2017, the amount of waste produced by the bloc stood at 249,238 tonnes (or 487kg per person), compared to 242,195 tonnes (or 479kg per person) in 2013, according to the data published on Wednesday.

While the numbers are increasing, analysts say it's marginal.

"We’re talking about a rise of not even 10 kilograms in three years (2014 to 2017) which accounts for less than 1% of the whole waste generation," Pierre Condamine, waste policy officer at Zero Waste Europe, told Euronews.

"Overall waste generation in the EU is stagnating and such little differences might not be representative of any specific cause," he added.

As of 2017, 30% of waste in the EU was recycled; 17% was composted; 28% incinerated and 24% landfilled.

"In contrast to a decade ago in 2007, it was vastly different with 24% of waste recycled, 13 % composted, 21% incinerated and 43% landfilled."

Of the 25 EU states included in the report, Demark produced the most rubbish in 2017 with 781 kg of waste per person. It was followed by Cyprus (637 kg/person), Germany (633 kg/person), Luxembourg (607 kg/person) and Malta (604 kg/person).

The countries with the least municipal waste per person were Romania (272 kg), Poland (315 kg) and the Czech Republic (344 kg), according to Eurostat.

Condamine said that in 2015, the EU adopted a Circular Economy Package in order to increase circularity, which aimed to see the bloc recycle 65% of its municipal waste by 2035.

"Recycling is a tool to improve the EU waste management systems but it does not say anything about waste prevention," Condamine added. He also pointed to the EU's recent ban on single-use plastics as a move in the right direction.

As for what an individual can do to reduce waste, Condamine suggested buying items in bulk at shops to avoid useless packaging and carrying a refillable bottle or food container for takeaway food.

Buying second-hand items for clothes and electronic devices instead of buying them brand new is also a good way of minimising what individuals throw away, he said.