In total, about 2500 million tonnes of waste was generated in the EU-28 and Norway in 2010. Here is an overview of where the waste came from and what it was composed of.
Natural resources fuel our production and consumption, and create wealth and jobs, contributing to our quality of life and well-being. But our level of resource consumption is undermining our ecosystems’ capacity to provide for us in the future.
Currently, we are using more resources than our planet can produce in a given time. We need to reduce the amount of waste we generate and the amount of materials we extract.
The best way to reduce the environmental impacts of waste is to prevent it in the first place. Many items that we throw away could also be re-used, and others can be recycled for raw materials.
Before reaching our plates, food needs to be produced, processed, packaged, transported and distributed. Every step uses up resources and generates more waste and pollution.
Much of the waste we throw away can be recycled. Recycling benefits the environment by diverting waste away from landfills and by providing raw materials for new products. Recycling can also encourage innovation and create jobs.
Increasing amounts of litter are ending up in the world’s oceans and harming the health of ecosystems, killing animals and putting human health at risk. The solution lies in waste prevention and better waste management on land.
Around one third of the food produced globally is lost or wasted. Food waste represents a substantial loss of other resources such as land, water, energy and labour.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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