The European Union Landfill Directive has been a positive force in altering management of biodegradable municipal waste in the EU, according to new research by the European Environment Agency.
The EEA report Diverting waste from landfill explains how setting medium- and long-term targets for reducing landfilling has helped countries to defined waste strategies and target investments.
Member States must reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill to 50 per cent of 1995 levels by 2009 and to 35 per cent of 1995 levels by 2016, according to the Landfill Directive.
A decade on from the Landfill Directives enactment, the EEA, has reviewed its progress and said that its success is based on two core factors. It states: First, its combination of long-term and intermediate targets has provided a good framework for countries to landfill less biodegradable municipal waste. In particular, the targets have helped governments and the European Commission measure progress and keep attention on the core issues. Second, the directives flexibility has been an important asset, affording Member States the space to try out alternative policies, adjust measures to match national and regional realities (including existing waste management practices, institutional structures and environmental conditions), and adapt policies in the light of experience.
The report mainly analyses waste management in five countries and one sub-national region: Estonia, Finland, the Flemish Region of Belgium, Germany, Hungary and Italy. But it does touch on waste management in the UK as well.
The report highlights how the Landfill Directive has had the greatest impact in locations where the process of shifting away from landfill was not already under way. As such, the report states that it has been a strong driver of change in Estonia, Italy and Hungary and had less impact in Germany and the Flemish Region, where implementation of diversion policies started before the directives adoption. The Flemish region and Germany are a considerable distance ahead and already comfortably meeting the 2016 target for landfilling biodegradable municipal waste.