European waste collection costs dissected
A comprehensive survey of costs around the EU for collecting and treating municipal waste has underlined a continuing lack of harmonisation in national approaches. The consultancy study is also a departure from previous attempts to derive average EU waste management costs for different treatment options.
The report presents a mass of cost data, covering most EU countries and the main treatment options. It is intended to serve as a baseline for future European Commission thinking on waste policies. It could also prove useful to local authorities and waste management decision makers, lead author Dominic Hogg of UK-based consultancy Eunomia told Environment Daily.
The Commission requested the study to update a 1997 report estimating average costs around Europe for the main waste management options (ED 13/05/97). However, its successor deliberately avoids following suit. Though overall averages are seductive, the study suggests, they suffer from so many confounding factors that they can be misleading.
It goes on to confirm continuing wide cost variations, both between management options and across countries. It also suggests that costs in many countries are out of line with the EU\'s waste management hierarchy of prevention, reuse, recycling, energy recovery and dumping.
For Mr Hogg, an important message for the Commission is that EU waste laws, such as directives on waste incineration and landfilling, have so far failed to achieve harmonisation in waste management costs.
The study calls for more thorough studies to analyse the implications of member state implementation of EU directives, including costs. It also comments on the wide variety of approaches to collection of recyclables and compostables, and the likely potential for further cost-optimisation in this area.
Without providing easy answers, the report\'s appearance at least helps illuminate the difficult choices facing Europe\'s more landfill-dependent countries in complying with the 1999 landfill directive. For these countries, the directive will require a mass shift away from dumping biodegradable wastes to other treatment options by 2016.
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