Decoupling of waste and economic indicators

In 2010, the European Commission launched Europe 2020, a 10-year strategy designed to help the advancement of European Union’s economy.

Its goal was encourage ‘smart, sustainable, inclusive’ growth, and it included a flagship initiative for a resource-efficient Europe, which recognised the need to break the link between economic growth from resource use, a process known as ‘decoupling’.

At the same time, the 2008 Waste Framework Directive requires member states to develop waste prevention programmes by the end of 2013, again with the aim of decoupling economic growth from the environmental impact associated with the generation of waste.

This new report looks at the main trends and drivers of waste arisings in the UK, and the effectiveness of waste prevention measures in reducing waste while, at the same time, facilitating economic growth through decoupling.

The research shows that household waste and economic indicators are decoupling across the four nations. A range of drivers are identified as important in influencing how much waste is created. The same level of analysis could not be carried out for other waste streams due to insufficient data.

A range of waste prevention measures including economic instruments, co-operation (through an industry or voluntary agreement) and information provision can be effective in breaking the link between economic growth and waste arisings.