The report states that “waste management had improved, but Europe remains far from a circular economy”.
The positive developments include decrease of generation of municipal waste per capita by 4% between 2004 and 2012, falling to 481 kg. Looking beyond waste generation, there are also signs of improved waste management in Europe. Between 2004 and 2010, the EU-28, Iceland and Norway reduced the amount of waste deposited in landfills substantially, from 31% of total waste generated (excluding mineral, combustion, animal and vegetable wastes) to 22%. This was partly due to an improvement in recycling rates of municipal waste, from 28% in 2004 to 36% in 2012.
Concerning the 5–10 year trends, the Report states that less waste is being landfilled due to reduced generation of some wastes, increased recycling and greater use of waste for energy recovery, while for the 20+ year outlook it is pointed out that the total waste generation is still high, although implementation of waste prevention programs could alleviate this.
According to the EEA’s executive director Hans Bruyninckx, the report puts pressure on the Commission to come up with an improved circular economy proposal. Bruyninckx stated: “We have done substantial work that illustrates the vital importance of the circular economy and resource efficiency for well-being and competitiveness, and that focusing on these elements contributes to European competitiveness, job creation and economic performance.” He added: “So we are looking forward to seeing the strengthened packages.”
Speaking at a press conference to launch the report, Commissioner for Environment Karmenu Vella made some statements on the new circular economy package and explained: “We are not being more ambitious only by setting targets, […] we want to be more ambitious on the outward side, on the implementation side, on the results side”. Vella added: “We want future products to be durable, more reusable, more repairable, and more recyclable as well. We need to create a market for the recycled product. We do have a certain amount of recycling but most of that recycled waste is not finding its way into the production”.
Please see https://www.eea.europa.eu/soer for the report and https://www.eea.europa.eu/media/newsreleases/future-prosperity-depends-on-bolder for a press release.