Main content area

Performance in the treatment of municipal waste: Are European Union member states so different?

Castillo-Giménez, Juana, Montañés, Antonio, Picazo-Tadeo, Andrés J.
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.687 pp. 1305-1314
European Union, composting, income, issues and policy, recycling, waste treatment, wastes
Efficient management and treatment of municipal waste is essential for achieving green growth. Recent studies have revealed convergence in European Union (EU) member states' performance in municipal waste treatment, particularly since the transposition of the 2008 European Waste Framework Directive into national laws. However, there are still notable differences between countries. In this paper, we calculate a composite indicator of performance in municipal waste treatment at the country-level. We also present an in-depth examination of differences in performance across EU member states. Our results show that the best performers—mainly high income Northern and Central European countries—treat larger quantities of waste per capita, mostly through recycling and composting and digestion. At the opposite end of the ranking, the worst performers—mostly poorer Eastern European countries—treat smaller amounts of waste per capita, largely through landfilling. Our main conclusion is that further policy measures aimed at reducing cross-country differences in waste treatment performance are needed in the EU.