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EU Report: A Long Way To Go In Reducing Waste

Published on Aug 16 2012 2:21 PM in Packaging And Design

EU Report: A Long Way To Go In Reducing Waste

While recycling and curbing food waste has been a focus for many European grocery retailers in recent years, a report by the European Commission on how EU countries manage municipal waste, shows that there is still a lot of work to be done by the 27 member states which will no doubt have a knock-on effect for retailers and manufacturers alike. 

The report rates countries on 18 different criteria, with a coloured flag system denoting success in areas such as total waste recycled, pricing of waste disposal, and infringements of European legislation. The results are broken down on a waste league table. Top of the table are Austria and the Netherlands who each scored 39 out of 42 points. Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Sweden also scored well, not gaining more than two red flags each, with the report stating that these countries have comprehensive waste collection systems, with landfill making up less than 5 per cent of their waste.

It is hoped that the report will be used to help member states improve their waste efficiency, which will no doubt encompass food packaging and waste. In the UK, approximately 7.5 million tonnes of food is thrown away each year.

Many retailers across Europe have initiated waste-saving programmes, such as the Integrated Waste Management Plan introduced by Migros Türk Ticaret. Having set an ambitious target of zero waste, Migros Türk has identified a sustainable disposal method, converting waste into energy. Using biogas and compost generation, waste can be converted into electricity and thermal energy. The programmes has been rolled out in 74 stores in the Istanbul region and generates 600,000M3 of biogas and 117,200kw of electricity annually, with 600 tonnes of organic waste derived from the stores.

French retailer Auchan saved 1510 tonnes of packaging material in 2010, including 35 tonnes of cardboard having ceased to use cardboard boxes for its own label toothpaste.

EU environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said, “Many Member States are still landfilling huge amounts of municipal waste – the worst waste management option – despite better alternatives, and despite structural funds being available to finance better options, valuable resources are being buried, potential economic benefits are being lost, jobs in the waste management sector are not being created, and human health and the environment suffer. This is hard to defend in our present economic circumstances.” The Commissioner's home country, Slovenia, might need a helping hand, ranking 11th on the table.

The table is available here. (16 Aug)

© 2012 - ESM: European Supermarket Magazine

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