Despite European measures to reduce the production of hazardous substances, the amount of hazardous waste has continued to increase since 2004. In addition, the EU could be much more active against the illegal trade, which is still lucrative.
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) believes that the EU countries should better agree their classification of 'hazardous waste', ensure traceability and recycle more.
The EU has been trying for decades to move designers and manufacturers away from using non-hazardous raw materials. Attempts are also being made to hold polluters responsible for their waste. But according to a new study by the European Court of Auditors, more is being added, and less than half of it is being reused.
“The generation of hazardous waste is increasing, and the EU should address this problem,” said Eva Lindström, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the analysis. “Recycling and energy recovery are the best ways to treat hazardous waste. Waste disposal should only be used as a last resort.”
Hazardous waste must be processed according to strict safety requirements in special processing installations. The resulting higher costs entail the risk of trading in hazardous waste. As a result, there is fraud with landfill certificates or the hazardous waste is dumped illegally.
The trade in and illegal dumping of hazardous waste remains lucrative, with annual revenues estimated at 1.5 to 1.8 billion euros from the trade alone. This is rarely detected, investigated or prosecuted and the penalties, according to the European Court of Auditors, are low. In terms of waste management, the EU countries are responsible for enforcing the EU legislation at national level.