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European hazardous waste management is improving, but its prevention needs attention

A new European Environment Agency (EEA) report calls for greater efforts to prevent the build-up of hazardous waste across Europe.​ The EEA report investigates the effective implementation of Member State’s waste prevention programmes. It looks at the different waste streams that are considered to be most dangerous to human health and the environment. This latest study looks at current trends in hazardous waste generated both throughout the EU based on the latest data available. It provides an overview of waste prevention objectives, targets, indicators, and measures. At a reported 100 million tonnes, hazardous waste accounted for close to 4% of the 2.5 billion tonnes of waste generated across the European Union in 2012. The predominant types of hazardous waste were:

·         mineral and solidified wastes;

·          chemical and medical wastes;

·         construction, mining and quarrying wastes;

Total hazardous waste generation has increased slightly since 2008, according to the report. More than half of the reviewed waste prevention programmes include measures to reduce the generation of hazardous waste. Most of the measures are linked to curbing production and including bans on toxic materials. However, prevention of hazardous waste appears to have lower priority than management aspects, and limited financial support. Prioritisation at the EU level is one of the drivers for better prevention at national or regional levels, the report says.

More information about waste prevention programmes is available in individual country/region fact sheets. 

Download report

Issue 52