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ELM News ImageReducing waste: set targets and less landfill, say reports debated Monday

As the amount of household and industrial waste increases in Europe, MEPs will debate two reports on the issue Monday. They call for more recycling, prevention of waste and a reduction in landfill usage. Currently 49% of municipal waste is sent to landfill sites while 33% recycled or composted. Across the EU, 3.5 tonnes of waste is produced per person per year. Both reports will be debated Monday after 1700 and voted on Tuesday.

The first, by British Conservative Caroline Jackson on the proposal for a directive on waste, calls for binding targets to stabilise waste production at anticipated 2008 levels by 2012. It also calls for greater re-use and recycling to reduce pressure on landfill sites.
The second report from Johannes Blokland of the Independence and Democracy Group, seeks a  "thematic strategy" to deal with the problem. His report calls for a total ban on all landfill waste by 2020. It also asks the European Commission to propose ways of reducing waste and develop measures that would show progress.
5 steps to less waste
One of the measures strongly supported by the Jackson report is the "five step" approach on waste treatment. Put simply it is prevention, reuse, recycling, energy recovery (through for example incineration) and landfill as a last resort.
The benefits of recycling are clear as just one example shows. Producing paper from recycled waste paper rather than wood saves a quarter of a tonne of energy consumption. It is also 75% less polluting to the atmosphere. Across the 27-member EU, the average level of paper and cardboard recycling is 49.6%.
The EU has huge differences in recycling rates. Some members send 90% of their waste to landfill with only 10% being recycled. At the greener end of the spectrum some send 10% to landfill, 25% to energy recovery and 65% is recycled.