An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of waste is generated annually in the EU and this is still steadily increasing. The overall volume of waste is growing at rates proportional to the economic growth rate of the EU25. Amongst the various streams of waste generated, management of hazardous and municipal waste alone costs the EU an estimated EUR75 billion annually. This translates to the waste management and recycling industry earning huge revenues that are expected to increase enormously in the next few years.
Frost & Sullivan (www.environmental.frost.com) finds that the European Waste Management and Recycling market earns annually revenues of 100 billions euros in total.
The waste management and recycling industry’s growth is driven by stronger environmental laws set by the EU.
“This has been done to prevent any irreversible damage a slow growing and uncompetitive recycling and waste handling industry might have on the environment.” explains Ajay Richard, Research Associate at Frost & Sullivan, Environment Group.
Starting with the 1975 Waste Regulation Legislation to the proposals for its revision in 2006 the EU has considered waste management to be an integral part of their environmental policy. The proposed thematic approach to waste management has drawn the attention industry people previously uninterested in environmental legislature.
Historically the EU has focused on the treatment and disposal of the end-waste and has had many positive impacts. “However, this methodology alone could never control the amount of waste being discharged at all waste streams,” comments Richard. “Now the legislative focus is on waste prevention and minimization. This shift in thinking is reflected by the thematic approach to waste management being incorporated into the revision of Directive 75/442/EEC, the Waste Framework Directive. The thematic approach aims to reduce negative environmental impacts by reducing the use of natural resources and promoting a more efficient use of resources.”
“With landfills being decommissioned slowly and/or being monitored carefully, and strict incineration legislation, the recycling industry is expected to grow steadily as the EU shifts towards being a recycling society,” continues the Frost & Sullivan research analyst. “The percentage of municipal wastes being recycled needs to increase sharply to overcome the burden of excessive waste generation.
“Furthermore, as mentioned above, rising economic growth is expected to increase the per capita municipal waste generation in the newer member states of the EU25. Also the treatment and need for value addition to waste in these newly joined member states should provide immense opportunities for the major recycling and waste treatment firms of Western Europe.”
The stricter legislation expected to be implemented in 2008 should provide immense opportunities to waste management firms. These opportunities can be realized by focusing their growth strategies on efficient technologies and customizing waste treatment to ensure the recycled waste is a resource for an industry.
The important thing for all manufacturing industries is to identify waste reduction methodologies in their production and for many manufacturers to quantify the end of life impact and reclamation costs of their products.
This study is part of a research portfolio in the European Waste Management industry.
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