European Review logo

ISSUE 59 page 7

Click for country articles

Choose a country to take your mouse,clicking on most will show an article on that country

Health & Safety
Landfill still king so EU states likely to miss waste directive targets
 NEW FIGURES FOR WASTE DISPOSAL FROM THE EU’S statistical arm Eurostat show that many Member States are failing to meet their targets under the 2008 Waste Framework Directive. Not only does this law prohibit uncontrolled disposal of municipal waste but it sets up a hierarchy of types of management from landfill, the worst, to recycling, the best. On average each EU citizen generates more than 500 kgs. of rubbish every year, 300 of which is food and plant detritus. At the moment, the overall re-cycling rate is 25% but by 2020 this should rise to 50% according to the legislation; only Germany, Belgium and Slovenia, now at around 40%, are likely to achieve this. Bulgaria sends all its municipal waste to landfill and Romania 99% while Belgium and Germany have eliminated it entirely. The UK, as usual, is somewhere in the middle landfilling 49% in 2010 and recycling 25%. Organic material can be composted as a better alternative as it results in a recoverable product but

only 15% of it is currently disposed of by this method. Austria leads on this measure, composting 40% followed by the Netherlandson 28%; Bulgaria and Romania do not compost any waste. Denmark, which as the current holder of the EU presidency is pushing a clean environment agenda, burns over half its rubbish and generates electricity from it although this method can create pollution problems.
The European Commission is now getting tough with countries that have not fully implemented the directive, opening court cases with several. It is also concerned about landfill sites in Greece and Cyprus which threaten wildlife. Commission surveys show that the waste law could save €72 billion a year. ‘That's why our priority is to improve the implementation of the existing legislation across the EU by bringing landfilling down and increasing recycling’ says Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik

EU Commissioner Janez Potočnik and a controversial Greek landfill site



REACH names products containing toxics as evaluation begins

THE EUROPEAN CHEMICALS AGENCY (ECHA), which was set up in  2008, is following an extended timetable in its duty to register and evaluate (REACH) about 30,000 chemicals. Consequently it is still notching up a number of ‘firsts’. Recently they published the initial schedule of products on the  EU market which contain Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), that have been notified to them by companies. These substances form a ‘Candidate List’ which could lead to them needing authorisation from   the European Commission before use. However, at the moment, they are present in cables, bags, packaging, waterproof clothing and PVC flooring. As well as producers having a responsibility to notify, consumers have a right to be told of their presence in any article that they might want to buy. The deadline for notifications is June this year and the Agency believes that the 203 so far received are only a fraction of the true number.
As the Candidate List currently consists of  53 chemicals compared to about 800 that the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) thought could have been included, the ECHA has cast its net wider. Its Community Rolling Action Plan has named another 90 ‘for which there is a suspicion that their manufacture and/or use could pose risks to human health or the environment’. Over the next three years they will each be allocated to one Member State which will report back on whether they are risk-free or should join the list. 43 of the 90 are also on the ETUI priority list which,  according to the ECHA, proves ‘that the union list is a good tool to identify substances of very high concern for workers’ health and the  environment’.

Estonian capital first in Europe for free transport
 TALLINN, THE CAPITAL OF ESTONIA, is to become the first city in Europe to offer its citizens free public transport. There was a large majority for the move in a referendum called by mayor Edgar Savisaar who believes that it will make the city ‘the flagship of green movement in Europe’. As revenue from fares currently contributes only 33% of the network’s running expenses, the mayor is convinced that travellers will be encouraged to switch from their cars at relatively low cost.  Opposition politicians said that the change would waste €20 million and also criticised the referendum itself as costing €260,000 when ‘the outcome was known from the start’.

A tram on a Tallinn street

Top of page




AlbaniaBulgariaRomaniaLithuaniaLuxembourgLatviaSlovakiaUkraineHungaryMaltaEstoniaFinlandNetherlandsDenmarkFranceAustriaCzech RepublicGreeceItalyPolandGermanyBelgiumSpainPortugalSwedenIrelandSloveniaNorwayTurkeyRussiaIcelandSwitzerlandCroatiaCyprus