Diverting waste from landfill – Effectiveness of waste-management policies in the EU

Issued in 1999, the Landfill Directive was a milestone in EU waste policy. It marked a decisive shift from landfill towards the EU’s new waste hierarchy, which prioritises waste prevention, followed by re‑use, recycling and recovery, and seeks to avoid landfilling wherever feasible.

The rationale was clear: besides concerns about landfill capacity in some countries, European policy‑makers were compelled to act because of growing awareness of landfill’s environmental impact, notably emissions of methane and other gases, and pollution of groundwater, surface water and soil. On that basis, the Landfill Directive set targets for progressively reducing the amount of biodegradable municipal waste landfilled in the period to 2016.

A decade on from the Landfill Directive’s enactment seems a fitting time to review progress and extract key lessons for policy‑makers in Europe and elsewhere. Through individual and comparative analyses of waste management in five countries and one sub‑national region (Estonia, Finland, the Flemish Region of Belgium, Germany, Hungary and Italy), as well as an econometric analysis of the EU–25 Member States, this report seeks to answer a number of important questions, including:

• To what extent has waste management practice changed in the last decade?

• How much of the change was due to the Landfill Directive (and other EU instruments)?

• What measures and institutional arrangements did countries introduce?

• Which measures and arrangements proved most effective in different national and regional contexts?

Read the full publication here in PDF format.

Citation: Diverting waste from landfill – Effectiveness of waste-management policies in the EU, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2009, ISBN 978‑92‑9167‑998‑0, ISSN 1725‑9177, DOI 10.2800/10886

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