Member states were assessed through the weighting of results for three selected criteria related to the application of the treatment options recycling, energy recovery and disposal of municipal waste. The screening showed three groups differing in performance.
The first, which were classed as "performing above average" were: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. Following this was a group of countries assessed as being "average performing": Spain, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal and Slovenia. Finally, 12 member states were classified as having the largest implementation gaps: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
Specific targets for recycling are outlined in the WFD requiring that by 2020, “the preparing for re-use and the recycling of waste materials such as at least paper, metal, plastic and glass from households and possibly from other origins as far as these waste streams are similar to waste from households, shall be increased to a minimum of overall 50% by weight”.
The European plastics producers’ association PlasticsEurope (Brussels / Belgium; www.plasticseurope.org) has welcomed the report. The association said it views the publication of the report and the decision to prepare roadmaps for underperforming countries as an important step towards eliminating the unnecessary landfilling of waste in Europe, including plastics.
Detailing some of the failures in application of the WFD highlighted in the report, Wilfried Haensel, executive director, PlasticsEurope, said: “It is not simply a question of pointing the finger at the poor performers. What is more important is to learn from those countries that are leading by example. With the challenges we are facing today in Europe, it makes no environmental or economic sense that seven EU member states are diverting over 90% of plastics waste from landfill, while 15 others still bury over 60%.” PlasticsEurope said the potential value of plastics currently lost in landfills in Europe is estimated to be around EUR 8 bn annually.
PlasticsEurope went further, saying in a statement that it believes that, while there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, the example set by countries at the top of the EC ranking demonstrates that the goal of “zero plastics to landfill by 2020” is achievable if the right policies are put in place. It concluded: “To support this aim the industry is involved in a number of initiatives with public authorities and other stakeholders in different member states to find ways of stimulating further recycling and recovery of plastics and to introduce instruments to discourage landfilling.”
The European Commission's "Screening of waste management performance of EU member states" as a PDF document