Keywords: waste Kuznets curves, WKC, decoupling, EU waste policies, policy effectiveness, panel data, MSW, packaging waste, municipal waste, European Union, waste income, waste generation, waste prevention, waste regulation, waste management, municipal solid waste
Waste dynamics, decoupling and ex post policy effectiveness: evidence from the EU15
This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of municipal and packaging waste generation dynamics, based on panel data for the EU
15. The evidence provides some valuable policy implications since it analyses the extent to which decoupling has occurred for the two waste streams and if and how effectively EU waste policy has influenced the waste generation-income relationship since 1995. We demonstrate that although absolute decoupling is far from being generally achieved for both municipal and even packaging waste generation – both historically heavily regulated by EU directives – there are some first positive signs of stronger relative decoupling with respect to the past. Nevertheless, the impact of waste policies is negligible, probably due to the biased focus on waste disposal and recovery rather than waste reduction at source. Waste prevention should definitely become the core objective of future waste regulation efforts in the EU, even assigning targets in terms of waste generated per capita.