Landfill standards rise across EU

Waste landfilling standards have improved across the EU-15 countries as a result of the bloc's 1999 landfill directive, according to a European Commission consultancy report.

The Golder Europe study assessed progress against key goals of the law. With the sole exception of Greece, volumes of municipal solid waste being landfilled have levelled off or started to fall despite a continuing increase in the amount arising. The report attributes this to efforts to reduce dumping of biodegradable wastes, although some countries had achieved reductions before the directive was passed.

The report also found that the number of landfills is reducing and the quality of those remaining is improving. There is evidence that the directive has contributed to this by bringing consistency to landfill engineering design principles. The directive's requirement to cut biodegradable waste dumping has also played a part.

One element of the directive is a landfill ban on used tyres - most countries are dumping fewer tyres and increasing recovery and recycling as a result. But less progress has been made on the criteria for deciding which landfills can accept which types of waste. Implementation is "slow and sporadic" and appears to be "still ongoing in most countries", says the study.

Illegal landfills may also be a continuing problem in some countries that claim to have stamped them out. Most states reported having no illegal dumps, while four admitted having more than 950. This points towards incompatible reporting approaches - the report suggests the minority may be over-reporting while the majority could be under-reporting the extent of the problem.

To see the report, go to: http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/waste/pdf/report_a2.pdf

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