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Waste will grow until at least 2020 across Europe

Solid waste streams are expected to increase massively by the year 2020, according to the latest European Environment Agency (EEA) annual report.

This is despite a projected decoupling of waste from GDP growth across the EU.

The European Union (EU) institution predicts that industrial waste, plus discarded paper and cardboard is likely to increase by 64% in the next 15 years across the EU, despite the growth in information technology.

Furthermore, packaging waste will grow by 50%, even with Brussels' increasingly tough packaging waste re-use rules.

Municipal refuse, waste oil and used tyres are also projected to increase by 2020, by 25%.

The report said: "Overall, the policy target of absolute decoupling is not expected to be met, as relative decoupling fails to counteract increases in waste generation".

The EEA predicts that construction, demolition and industry will continue to dominate waste supplies, with about 650 million tonnes being produced by 2020 EU-wide.

By contrast, municipal waste should contribute 250 million tonnes that year. As for how this increased waste is used, the report is more optimistic from an environmental point of view saying that the EU landfill directive should ensure that landfilling of biodegradeable municipal waste is reduced by 15 million tonnes in 2006, 28 million tonnes in 2009 and 41 million tones in 2016. This should significantly reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions.

The report also makes regional assessments, comparing EU countries. It says that Spain would probably remain the EU state with the highest level of municipal waste per household, rising to 2.2 tonnes per annum in 2030, whilst the average for other EU countries would be 1.3 tonnes.

In eastern Europe, the effect of environmental reforms on improving operational efficiencies is likely to reduce this region's waste generation more than in relatively efficient western Europe: municipal wastes in the 10 countries joining the EU last year should increase by just 10% by 2020.

But stronger economic growth in eastern Europe is likely to increase other wastes: 70% more waste oil and used tyres from cars, for example.

In the UK, municipal waste volumes are projected to rise from 28.1 million tonnes to 37 million tonnes in 2020.

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