Waste Management in Europe

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Most developed countries face the same problems with trash as the United States. In fact, some areas of the globe are way ahead of the United States in trash technology and policies. Europe, for example, due to its dense population, began running out of landfill space long ago. Many European countries turned to incinerators, but this method has become increasingly disfavored because it produces too much air pollution and hazardous waste. As a result, some countries in Europe have begun implementing strategies to eliminate large amounts of garbage that would otherwise have to be burned or dumped. Thanks to the adoption of packaging and bottle-return laws, the use of new trash technologies, and the resort to aggressive recycling programs, Europeans now generate only half as much trash per person as Americans.

The European Union (EU), a group of twenty-seven mostly European nations, has been instrumental in encouraging more effective waste management policies. In 1994, for example, the

European Union issued a Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive aimed at reducing the amount of trash going to landfills and incinerators. The directive encourages minimization of the amount of material used in packaging, the reuse of packaging components, and recycling of packaging materials. Another EU directive, called Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, seeks to create systems for the collection, treatment, and recycling of electronic wastes.The EU also has directed member nations to reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills to 35 percent of what it was in 1995 by the year 2020.

However, some European countries have developed much more advanced waste management policies than others. Greece, for example, is far behind most other European countries in terms of reducing wastes and implementing recycling. Each year, the country sends about 90 percent of its trash to landfills, including about a billion plastic drinking water bottles, another billion soft drink bottles, and yet another billion plastic containers for cleaning fluids. Only

Germany is a recycling leader in Europe. The country encourages recycling through the use of seven recycling bins, four of which are pictured here.

Germany is a recycling leader in Europe. The country encourages recycling through the use of seven recycling bins, four of which are pictured here.

Garbage Containers Europe

about 1 percent of Greek plastic waste is recycled. Italy is another European country that struggles with waste issues. In 2008 Naples, a city in southern Italy, became the poster child for the nation's garbage problems when mountains of rotting trash were allowed to pile up on city streets because the country had run out of landfill space. Eventually, in the summer of 2008, the crisis was temporarily solved when Naples's trash was sent by train to incinerators in Hamburg, Germany. The European Commission, the executive body of the EU, filed suit against Italy in May 2008 for failing to meet its obligation to collect and dispose of garbage. Garbage problems also afflict Spain, France, and Ireland, which a recent study found are unlikely to meet the long-term EU targets for trash reduction.

The United Kingdom, too, has long had a bad reputation for ineffective waste management and recycling, although it has made some progress in recent years. In 1997 the nation recycled just 7 percent of its waste, but today it recycles close to 30 percent —a figure close to the U.S. recycling rate. Yet the United Kingdom still faces huge waste management challenges. As Nick Mann of the British Local Government Association explains, "We have described the U.K. as the dustbin of Europe because we put more to landfill than any other country in the EU, and our landfill space is running out very quickly."35 In fact, British wastes are increasing 3 percent a year, and its dumps are expected to be filled to capacity in only nine more years.

At the other end of the spectrum, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, and Luxembourg all send less than a quarter of their trash to landfills. These countries over the last decade have developed various strategies to reduce and properly dispose of their waste, such as closing polluting landfills and investing in high-volume recycling and trash reduction programs. They also have built state-of-the-art incinerators that minimize air pollution with filters and that capture energy for use in heating homes and water.

Germany, for example, is one of the leaders in Europe on recycling and the environment. The entire country is encouraged to recycle waste into seven bins—yellow for packaging materials; blue for paper and cardboard; three bins for clear, brown, and green glass; a "Bio" bin for leftover food and other organic wastes;

and a black bin for everything else. Germans are required to take special items such as batteries or chemicals to a recycling center. Failure to recycle properly can result in a nasty note, or even a fine, from the local waste management company. The country's modern recycling centers then employ technological advances such as precision, computer-guided infrared scanners to separate and compact recycled materials into different types of neat bales, which are sold for profit. Germans also pay a plastic bottle deposit, which is refunded when the bottles are returned to the stores where the products were purchased.

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  • fre-qalsi
    How to manage garbages in europe countries?
    3 years ago
  • wade
    How do europeans throw out trash?
    1 year ago
  • Mathias
    How does europe go for waste management?
    1 year ago
    Which countries will run out of space for trash in the next twenty years?
    11 months ago
  • Caroline
    11 months ago
  • semhar
    What do europe recycle?
    10 months ago
  • mika
    How does Europeans manage their waste?
    9 months ago
  • bercilac
    How do europeans recycle trash?
    5 months ago
  • Aristide Calabresi
    What does europe do with their trash?
    4 months ago
  • gianleone
    Where d oes europe recycle its waste?
    19 days ago

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