EU generates 27 million tonnes of hazardous waste

The EU was generating around 27 million tonnes of hazardous waste in the mid-1990s, according to a new report from Eurostat - Statistical Office of the European Communities in Luxembourg.

According to Eurostat estimates, the amount is increasing, although with some falls in individual Member States, for example Germany and the UK.

The report is an analysis of the 1998 Eurostat/OECD questionnaire on the state of the environment, sent to Member States every two years. Comparisons between countries can only be indicative due to different classifications and definitions used by each country.
As Eurostat puts it: “In trying to establish comparable statistics for hazardous waste, it becomes obvious that the existence of international and national classifications – many of which are not harmonised – complicates the situation.”

Falls are noted in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK but “increasing tendencies” in Belgium (Flanders Region), Denmark, Spain, Austria and Norway (included in the analysis along with Switzerland). “Large variations over time in some countries such as Spain or Finland suggest the list of waste considered hazardous might have changed during the period observed.”

Commenting on the per capita figures, the report states that the high amount registered in Belgium (Flanders Region) is due to the fact that over 50% of the total stems from waste treatment. And in Luxembourg (where it reached 481 in 1995, albeit less subsequently) the amount was due to “a large site rehabilitation and decontamination”.

The report says land-filling and incineration are clearly the practices most used in the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste. In general, the largest amounts are land-filled. In the near future, with implementation of the Council Directive on land-fill of waste, this practice will be regulated and restricted. But in some countries, such as the Netherlands and France, the amount of hazardous waste land-filled has already fallen during the nineties.

Incineration is also common in most countries, with Denmark, France and Switzerland using this method for 30% of total hazardous waste generated or managed.

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