Preventing waste is a key part of Europe’s strategy in shifting to a resource-efficient and climate-neutral circular economy. Waste generation across Europe increased by 5.2% between 2014 and 2018, while GDP increased by 14.8 % in the EU according to the EEA reportThe same data trends also show that the adoption of the first waste prevention programmes by countries, applicable in most EU countries from 2013 or earlier, was insufficient to decrease the amount of waste generated.
The analysis shows that waste generation is still very dependent on developments in the economy, but, overall, the EU has been able to achieve a waste generation growth lower than the economic growth, or a so-called relative decoupling. Still, more needs to be done to ensure that waste decreases in real terms in a growing economy. The adoption of concrete targets — a strong driver of policy making — would help consolidate prevention policy at EU and national level.
The EEA analysis looked at national waste prevention programmes and specifically waste streams in focus, indicators, targets, and measures to prevent waste. The review revealed that, as of this year, 10 out of the 32 countries examined do not have a waste prevention programme in place, as required by EU legislation.
Textile waste in focus
Textile waste would benefit greatly from improved measures to prevent waste , as this is a fast-growing, environmentally impactful waste stream associated with unsustainable consumption patterns. The average European generates approximately 11 kg of textile waste per year.
Preventing textile waste has great potential, mainly through reducing textile consumption, eco-design and ultimately reuse. To facilitate this, emphasis should be put on product design to promote durable and long-lasting materials, while support should be given to repair (e.g. with use of tax breaks) and reuse (e.g. through regulations).