Measuring Environmental Degradation
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Measuring Environmental Degradation

Developing Pressure Indicators for Europe

Edited by Anil Markandya and Nick Dale

Measuring Environmental Degradation is a unique book that provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of the key issues of environmental significance addressed as part of the Eurostat ‘Environmental Pressure Indicators Project’. The book is part of the ‘Towards Environmental Pressure Indicators for the EU’ (TEPI) series that has resulted from the project.
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Chapter 30: Proposals for the reduction of problems in connection with waste

K. Jordan and P. Go_ssele


K. Jordan and P. Gössele 1. WHY IS WASTE A PROBLEM? Human activities throughout the ages have caused production of waste. We have learned about the skills and habits of our prehistoric ancestors from their rubbish heaps, where at most a few earthenware shards or some scraps of metal have lasted until today. Even the material from a 200-year-old dump is not much more diverse, with stones, ceramics, glass and metals still the main waste products, but the quantity is much greater, with a substantial increase in waste per capita. Following industrialization, waste production accelerated proportionally with the production of goods. With the development of certain types of industry, such as chemistry and metallurgy, waste production not only increased but became increasingly hazardous. During the first two to three decades following the Second World War, industries were modernized, economies prospered and Western European societies developed a ‘throw-away’ mentality because resources seemed to be readily available. Up to the early 1980s, the amount of household and industrial waste rose steadily. Since 1950, for example, the annual paper consumption in the Federal Republic of Germany has increased seven-fold and an annual increase of 1.5 per cent is anticipated to the year 2000. In addition, the composition of waste has changed considerably. Due to changes in consumption patterns, a dramatic increase in packaging waste has been observed. Beverages such as beer, wine, mineral water and soft drinks, previously packaged in returnable bottles, are now increasingly bottled in one-way-glass, tin plate, aluminium, plastic...

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