Water and Sewage
Green Blue
Buildings & land use
Introduction Important issues Indicators + benchmarks Cross sector links References


“Over 1.8 billion tonnes of waste are generated each year in Europe. This equals to 3.5 tonnes per person. This is mainly made up of waste coming from households, commercial activities (e.g., shops, restaurants, hospitals etc.), industry (e.g. pharmaceutical companies, clothes manufacturers etc.), agriculture (e.g., slurry), construction and demolition projects, mining and quarrying activities and from the generation of energy. With such vast quantities of waste being produced, it is of vital importance that it is managed in such a way that it does not cause any harm to either human health or to the environment”. European Topic Centre on Resource and Waste Management, Topic Centre of European Environment Agency

Waste is a consequence of all human activities and has to be disposed of in some way. Tackling waste management is one of the most important sustainability problems faced. Waste is a complex mixture of materials in different proportions depending on the source (construction and demolition, household, industrial, agriculture, mining & quarrying commercial and others). Approximately 25% of all EU waste generated is construction or demolition waste (European Topic Centre on Resource and Waste Management, 2005), which includes concrete, bricks, wood, glass, metals, plastic, solvents, asbestos and excavated soil, many of which can be recycled in one way or another.

waste disposal

The disposal of waste, whether through land-fill or incineration, is a source of environmental pollution to air, water and land. Landfill sites are becoming increasingly scarce and are a source of the greenhouse gas methane. A number of incentives are needed: (i) for new and stronger recycled material markets, (ii) to encourage less waste to be sent to landfill, (iii) to achieve the practice of alternative means of waste disposal, including re-use and recycling of non-organic waste and composting and digestion of organic waste.

waste disposal

Each step of the waste management process needs to be considered including collection, transportation, separation, processing and recovery or disposal.

Obtaining case studies for PETUS of the waste sector has been more difficult than other sectors. This could be due to a number of reasons including:
• a limited number of projects/developments occurring at levels of the waste hierarchy other than disposal via landfill;
• data and information within the industry are sensitive, as no method of waste disposal is totally sustainable.

The waste case studies presented within PETUS are concerned with the reduction and reusing/recycling of waste streams within the urban infrastructure. This includes general waste management (waste streams associated with domestic and other buildings), construction waste management and recovering waste (brownfield) sites. The case studies do not include waste from specific industrial/manufacturing processes or hazardous waste.