Brussels, 7 October - Europe throws away
resources worth over 5 billion euros every year by landfilling or incinerating
materials that could be recycled, Friends of the Earth Europe reported today
. At the same time, Europe is importing ever-increasing quantities of
materials from the rest of the world .
Dr Michael Warhurst of Friends of the
Earth Europe's Resources and Consumption campaign said: "It's shocking
that all these valuable resources are being literally thrown away across
Europe, whilst at the same time Europe continues to buy in ever-increasing
quantities of materials from the rest of the world. Europe needs to stop
landfilling and incinerating recyclable materials, and we need new policies to
create a resource efficient EU."
The new report, 'Gone to waste: the
valuable resources that European countries bury and burn', finds that countries
across the European Union are landfilling or incinerating recyclable material
which if recycled would save an estimated 148 million tonnes of CO2eq,
equivalent to taking approximately 47 million cars off the road per year.
This research reveals that around half of
all key recyclable materials generated in the EU, including paper, card, glass,
plastics, aluminium and steel, are being sent to disposal and not to recycling.
If recycled instead, these materials would have had a minimum potential
monetary value of 5.25 billion euros.
Recycling, reusing and reducing these
materials would have significant benefits for the climate.
This valuable resource could also provide
the basis for the development of an expanded recycling and resource management
industry, creating many more 'green jobs' in reprocessing, sorting and
collecting of recyclables and realising the value of this so-called 'waste'.
High value materials, such as aluminium cans, are ending up buried or destroyed
in incinerators largely as a result of inadequate recycling systems. In order
to address this waste, Friends of the Earth Europe wants to ban the landfill
and incineration of recyclable materials, an approach that has worked well in
the Belgium region of Flanders.
In addition, Friends of the Earth Europe
is proposing that Europe should start to measure its resource use, and set
targets to reduce this resource use . This objective is part of the 'Spring
Alliance' manifesto, which is supported by environmental, social and
development non-government organisations and by Trade Unions .
For more information please contact:
Dr A. Michael Warhurst, Waste and
Resources Campaign, Friends of the Earth Europe, +44 20 7490 1555
Francesca Gater, Communications Officer,
Friends of the Earth Europe, +32 2 893 1010
Notes for editors
 The report "Gone to waste: the valuable resources that European
countries bury and burn" is available here.
The report uses the best available data
on recycling rates in Europe, which date from 2004, and makes a conservative
estimate of the value of the materials concerned, Note that: (i) the report
focuses on the high tonnage materials such as plastics and aluminium, and does
not look at the low tonnage valuable metals that are found in electronic
(ii) The value of recyclable materials does not include the cost of recycling the
Our use of the world's natural resources', Friends of the Earth Europe,
to measure Europe's Resource Use', Sustainable Europe Research
Institute/Friends of the Earth Europe, July 2009