European hazardous waste management improving, but its prevention needs attention

News Published 16 Dec 2016 Last modified 10 Dec 2019
1 min read
Photo: © Stipe Surac, Waste•smART/EEA
Despite improvements in hazardous waste management, more measures would be required to prevent the build-up of hazardous waste across Europe, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report released today. The report reviews the application of waste prevention programmes across European countries regarding waste types that are considered to be most dangerous to human health and the environment.

The EEA report ‘Prevention of hazardous waste in Europe – the status in 2015,’  is the third annual review of waste prevention programmes done by the EEA. This year’s review focuses on the prevention of hazardous waste that is one of the priorities of environmental policies in Europe. The assessment looks at current trends in the amounts of hazardous waste generated both in Europe and in individual countries, based on the latest data available. It provides an overview of waste prevention objectives, targets, indicators, and measures.

At a reported 100 million tonnes, hazardous waste accounted for close to 4% of the 2.5 billion tonnes of waste generated across the European Union in 2012. The predominant types of hazardous waste were mineral and solidified wastes, chemical and medical wastes, with the waste management, construction, mining and quarrying, and household sectors as the top sources. Total hazardous waste generation has increased slightly since 2008, according to the report.

More than half of the reviewed waste prevention programmes include measures to reduce the generation of hazardous waste. Most of the measures are linked to curbing production and including bans on toxic materials. However, prevention of hazardous waste appears to have lower priority than management aspects, and limited financial support. Prioritisation at the EU level is one of the drivers for better prevention at national or regional levels, the report says.

The report also raises data quality issues, and highlights that changes in waste classification and definition of hazardous waste cause reporting and interpretation problems and may affect the accuracy and comparability of national data. This is also likely to affect national target setting and indicator development.  

More information about waste prevention programmes is available in individual country/region fact sheets. 


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