As Europe grows wealthier it creates more and more rubbish. Every man, woman and child in the EU generates over a kilo of waste every day. Multiply that figure by nearly half a billion EU citizens and it quickly becomes clear that managing our waste without harming the environment is a major headache.
European citizens are deeply concerned about the waste mountain building up around them and there is a growing realization that we cannot continue dumping vast quantities of rubbish without serious environmental consequences. But this has not stopped the amount of waste generated in Europe increasing by 10% between 1985 and 1995. There has been progress in some areas – municipal waste has declined in some central European countries, composting and recycling rates have increased and there is less reliance on landfills – but the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development still estimates that by 2020 we could be generating 45% more waste than we did in 1995. Obviously we must reverse this trend if we are to avoid being submerged in rubbish.