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Influence of four socioeconomic indices and the impact of economic crisis on solid waste generation in Europe

Namlis, Konstantinos-Georgios, Komilis, Dimitrios
Waste management 2019 v.89 pp. 190-200
carbon dioxide, economic development, electronic wastes, greenhouse gas emissions, gross domestic product, human development, issues and policy, socioeconomic factors, unemployment, waste management, Germany, Greece, Portugal, United Kingdom
The standard of living and certain socioeconomic and development indices can influence solid waste generation. This potential association can aid to focus on, and to establish, appropriate policies to reduce waste generation, with waste prevention being the cornerstone of those policies so that to eventually decouple waste generation from economic growth. Although, several studies have been performed at a regional or municipal level to study the impact of socioeconomic factors on waste generation, this impact on a European scale using data of several individual special solid waste streams from the years of the economic crisis has not been studied. The goal of the work was to investigate the impact of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Human Development Index (HDI), the Unemployment Rate (UR), and the CO2 emissions on the generation rates of thirteen solid waste streams using data from ten European countries. Annual data ranged from years 2008/2009 to 2015. Regression modeling between the waste generation rates and each of the four indices was developed and significant correlations were calculated. Results revealed that nine solid waste streams were positively correlated to the GDP, with waste electronic and electric equipment (WEEE) having the strongest positive correlation. With the aid of a novel graphical methodology, the countries were grouped into “normally behaving”, “affected”, “preventive” and “wasteful”. Greece and Portugal were the countries that belonged to the “affected” countries for most waste streams, whilst Germany and the United Kingdom belonged most frequently to the preventive countries.