Waste prevention ranks highest in the list of the objectives of European waste policies, which defines management objectives from the most to the least important. If waste cannot be avoided, it must be reused or prepared for their use, recycling, incineration with power recovery or disposed of, if no other option is available. Europe aims at ranking high in this hierarchy, also in view of the fact that waste production should be declining by 2020 according to the Roadmap for a resource-efficient Europe.
The main outcomes of the Report
-as of 2013, 18 countries out of 31 (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein are also monitored together with EU Member States) had adopted national and regional waste prevention programmes;
-the programmes analysed show remarkable differences as regards their details, coverage, objectives and timing (generally four years);
-twelve programmes are dedicated programmes, while the others are part of wider waste management plans;
-ten programmes foresee an assessment to be carried out at least every six years, as stated by the European Waste Framework Directive; some programmes foresee the drawing up of periodical reports;
-stakeholders have been involved in the development of nine programmes and the implementation of eighteen programmes;
-the issue of financial resources is rarely dealt with in the programmes.
Waste prevention objectives
The general aim of decoupling waste production from economic growth is stated in most of the programmes, with some of them also aiming at the reduction of harmful substances, as part of their general objectives. Job creation (Hungary) and the development of new business models (England and Wales) are part of the general objectives of three programmes.
The programmes cover a wide range of sectors and waste types. All of them concern households and public services, while only few programmes include agriculture, mining and raw materials. This limited coverage of sectors might be due to the fact that some areas have been included in other areas of intervention or are the competence of other institutions. As regards waste types, most of the programmes regulate urban/household waste, food waste, construction and demolition waste, waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), packaging waste and dangerous waste.
Waste prevention quantitative objectives
Eleven of the programmes analysed foresee quantitative objectives ranging from all the waste produced to more specific targets for specific sectors or waste types. Some countries have shown reluctance in setting their objectives, due to lack of reliable and relevant data. The review of the programmes does not therefore imply the analysis of quantitative objectives.
Waste prevention indicators
Sseventeen programmes foresee indicators, i.e. tools to assess the progress made towards the achievement of certain objectives and results and, ultimately, the effectiveness of waste prevention policies. When comparing the specific indicators of the countries/regions with the objectives stated in the programmes, it emerges that only few countries suggest the use of indicators to monitor all their respective objectives.
Monitoring systems of objectives and indicators are foreseen in seven programmes: in some cases, the monitoring systems are contemplated by other documents.
Waste prevention measures
The analysis shows a wide range of planned measures to support waste prevention according to annex IV of the European Waste Framework Directive (examples of prevention). Most of the measures, i.e. 51%, focus on planning, production and distribution; 39% of them are related to consumption and use; while 10% concentrates on the waste production general framework.
The classification of the measures based on policy relevance shows that most of them, i.e. 60%, do not deal with information and awareness-raising activities; regulatory and economic tools make up for 17% and 16% respectively, while voluntary agreements represent 7% of all measures.