Waste Prevention

The overall quantity of waste is increasing rapidly on a worldwide scale. In the EU around 3.5 tonnes per capita of waste is produced annually, including more than 400kg per person per year of domestic waste. All the projections available today tend to show that this increase at worldwide level will continue at least until 2030 and in Europe no real decoupling between waste and economic growth is expected before 2020, even if this is already happening in some EU countries.

There are many negative impacts of waste. The spread of hazardous substances contained in discarded goods present significant risk for human health and the environment, while the production of throwaway goods are contributing massively to climate change.

Rather than being sent to landfill or incinerated, the circular economy ensures that organic waste such as food is composted, returning nutrients to the soil and thereby helping to naturally improve food production.

The EEB believes that waste prevention is priority, with recycling the answer when prevention is not possible. To make this approach most effective, waste prevention needs to be addressed at the design stage of products and all along the consumption chain – from purchasing to discarding.

Prevention and recycling could together save EU citizens billions of euros and contribute to fighting climate change, reducing our impacts on land and biodiversity and providing job opportunities.

Rethinking Plastic

2018 should be remembered as the year civil society stood up to counter the irreversible consequences of plastic pollution in our environment.

Once known as an innovative material, plastic has become the symbol of our throw-away society and has been linked to several major problems including marine litter and the collapse of entire ecosystems.

In January 2018, all eyes were on the European Commission when it released Europe’s first-ever strategy targeting single-use plastic items and vowed to make all plastic packaging recyclable or reusable by 2030.

The EEB, along with other members of the Rethink Plastic Alliance, will be at the forefront of the fight against plastic pollution in the coming months.

Where do EU countries stand?

EU institutions and member states  agreed in December 2017 to set more ambitious waste laws and recycling targets to be met by in the coming years.

Check out our interactive map to find out whether your country was “a leader or a laggard” during the negotiations, and what measures have been agreed.







560000 jobs

could be created by increasing recycling

less than 50 %

of waste is recycled in the EU