Waste management in the EU – In english please!

A frequent statement from boys and girls who are too lazy for waste sorting is that what we’re doing in little Sweden doesn’t matter. It’s only the big countries that count. This is so wrong that we won’t even devote five seconds to correct it. On the other hand, it’s interesting to see how other countries are handling their waste. Waste management is of course a global challenge.

A quick look at the statistics indicates that the Danes produce most household waste in the EU, 801 kilograms per person per year. At the bottom of the list we find the Czechs, who manage on 294 kilograms. Also the management routines differ. In Bulgaria they put everything, 100 percent of the garbage in landfill. In Germany they are much smarter and put just 1 percent of the garbage into landfill. Why is it so?


Level 1 – This is how the EU countries handle their garbage

Map out how waste management is in the EU. Describe how much garbage people produce in the various EU countries and how the waste is taken care of. Discuss possible patterns and reasons why the waste map looks like it does.

Level 2 - Regulation of waste management in the EU

Describe how the waste management is regulated in the EU. Describe the type of directives that are set centrally and what is up to individual Member States. Give a brief description of the contents of the main directives and the guidelines in EU’s waste strategy

Start thinking about!

Why do some people produce more waste than others?
  • Are there links between countries’ waste production and standard of living?
  • A Dane produces 283 kilograms more waste a year than a Swede – what do you think is the explanation?
Are some EU countries "waste smarter" than others?
  • Are countries that produce lots of garbage also worse in handling it?
  • Are there links between countries waste management and standard of living?
To what degree do laws, directives and goals affect this?
  • How fixed are EUs directives concerning waste management?
  • Who is responsible for creating the necessary regulations of a sustainable society?

Proposals for presentation

Web site

The first step

European commission – On environment
EU:s Thematic Strategy – On prevention and recycling of waste
Environmental Data Centre on Waste – Facts on waste in the European Union
European Environment Agency – Independent information on the environment
Bureau of International Recycling – International recyclingorganisation


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