By / March 9, 2013

Waste management: towards zero waste

This dossier aims to provide information on recent studies and statistical data regarding waste management and the concept of zero…

© ferkelraggae / Fotolia

This dossier aims to provide information on recent studies and statistical data regarding waste management and the concept of zero waste. Zero waste means different things to different actors involved in waste treatment. To consumers, zero waste evokes efforts to achieve waste sorting and re-use, as well as waste prevention approaches. To producers, it could mean applying methods to reduce waste and to produce recyclable products. Regarding the waste services providers, zero waste is linked to better collecting, processing, and disposal of the waste in order to limit the environmental impact.

Waste management in the EU: overview


© ferkelraggae / Fotolia

Screening of waste management performance of EU Member States: final report, BiPRO, July 2012, 49 p.
This report concludes that there are large differences within the EU-27 with regard to treatment of municipal waste, compliance with the EU legislation and application of legal or economic instruments as well as planning quality.

Use of economic instruments and waste management performances: final report, Bio Intelligence Service, April 2012, 180 p.
This study investigates chosen economic instruments in order to analyse the relationship between their use and the performances of the waste management systems of the EU Member States.

Europe as a recycling society: European recycling policies in relation to the actual recycling achieved, Naoko Tojo, Christian Fischer, European Topic Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production, March 2011, 25 p.
This paper provides with classification of recycling policy measures in relation to the actual recycling levels achieved in the EU Member States.


Less is more: Resource efficiency through waste collection, recycling and reuse of aluminium, cotton and lithium in Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, February 2013, 30 p.
This report explores three materials, lithium, aluminium and cotton, in order to give an example of the social, economic and environmental impacts of the “linear economy”.

On the road to zero waste: successes and lessons from around the world, GAIA, June 2012, 88 p.
This report overviews examples of zero waste strategies.

Tips and advice on how to create an efficient waste prevention programme,  EEB, June 2012, 25p.
This paper gives useful methodologies to implement waste prevention and reminds the EU legislation.

A global redesign? Shaping the circular economy, Felix Preston, Chatam House, March 2012, 20 p.
This paper argues that the circular economy as a model for industrial organization can help to decouple resource use from economic growth. In that way the current production systems based on resource extraction and generating huge amounts of waste could be replaced by systems that reuse resources and conserve energy.

Novel approaches to waste crime, Keith Lawton, Stephanie Briscoe, EPOW, February 2012, 66 p.
This report examines the UK tyre market, waste tyre crime and a series of case studies evaluating public sector led novel approaches to tackling waste tyre crime.

Earnings, jobs and innovation: the role of recycling in a green economy, EEA, December 2011, 28 p.
This report explains the role of recycling as a key challenge to shift towards an European green economy and its economic benefits.

Supporting environmentally sound decisions for waste management, JRC-IES, 2011, 197 p.
This guide focuses on Life Cycle Assessment applied to the waste management sector and how this can be used to identify the best solution for the environment among alternatives.

Recycling between market regulations and environmental imperatives, Veolia environmental services, [2010], 68 p.
This publication analyses the “economy of waste” through examples from different countries.



Municipal waste generation and treatment, by type of treatment method: Material recycling

Municipal waste statistics
Data from March 2011

Waste statistics
Latest data from 2011

EU funded projects

Low Cost – Zero Waste Municipality (ZERO WASTE): website
The project aims at developing an integrated zero-waste management system for municipalities based on the principles of re-use, recycling and reduce of waste that ends up in landfills and dumps.

“BACSIN” project: website
The aim of this collaborative project is to improve the rational use of bacterial catalytic activities, in particular for targeted pollution treatment, removal and prevention.
See the Summary.

European Pathway to Zero Waste (EPOW): website
This is a LIFE+ funded programme that is investigating practical ways to achieve zero waste to landfill in the South East of England. It shares the results with relevant EU regions and will run for just over three years to 31 March 2013.

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