Breaking the link between economic growth and waste generation

This from "Science for Environment Policy", issue 203, a service delivered by DG Environment.

" High levels of waste production must be tackled as part of the move towards sustainable living. Recent research has used Sweden as a case study to assess the strength of suitable policies and strategies that are required to break the link between economic growth and waste generation.

Over the past few decades the amount of solid waste has grown alongside growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For example, in the EU-15 the total quantity of municipal waste grew by 54 per cent per person between 1980 and 2005. In Sweden, manufacturing waste increased by 60 per cent over the same time.

Waste prevention is a top priority for the EU 1, although a future target for waste reduction has not been specified at EU level. In Sweden, an assessment by the Swedish Environmental Objectives Council2 suggests it will be difficult to avoid increasing quantities of waste.

This study developed two scenarios to investigate the relationship between waste generation and economic activity for the period 2006-2030 in Sweden. One scenario is based on the official projection of the Swedish economy, which is linked to historical data on different categories of hazardous and non-hazardous waste flows from economic and human activities. The other scenario adjusts the future quantities of waste generated by households, and companies' material inputs and production processes of goods that would be necessary to achieve absolute decoupling (i.e. no growth in waste whilst GDP still increases).

The results suggest that if waste generation continues according to historical figures, there will be relative but not absolute decoupling of waste quantities by 2030. That is, waste quantities will still increase but at a lower rate than growth in GDP. Of the overall waste generated, total non-hazardous waste increases by 52 per cent and hazardous waste by 72 per cent compared with an estimated growth in GDP of 67 per cent from 2006-2030.

To achieve absolute decoupling (i.e. no waste growth), waste production by firms and households must decrease relative to economic activity in the future. Waste generation related to materials used in the production of goods must decrease at about twice the historical rate; that is, a reduction of about 2 per cent per year for both hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

Waste related to production processes must decline by 1.35 and 2.09 per cent per year for non-hazardous and hazardous types of waste respectively. All household waste must be reduced by 3.36 per cent a year.

The amount of waste that must be reduced, as indicated by this study, suggests strong policy measures are required to move companies and households towards sustainable production and consumption, where waste generation is decoupled from economic growth.

For companies, policy instruments, such as a tax on virgin materials, must ensure production techniques change to those that generate less waste. For households, policy instruments, such as different VAT rates for goods and services that generate less waste, are needed to change the pattern and intensity of domestic consumption.

1. See: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/index.htm
2. See: www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/5775

Source: Sjöström, M., Östblom, G. (2010) Decoupling waste generation from economic growth - A CGE analysis of the Swedish case. Ecological Economics. 69: 1545-1552.

Contact: goran.ostblom@konj.se"


SWEEP - Net: a hope for waste management in MENA region?

I spent three fruitful days in Tunis participating in the first meeting of SWEEP – Net (Solid Waste Exchange of Information and Expertise Network). This is an initiative supported by GTZ, Germany and the Tunisian ANGed, trying to promote sustainable waste management in the countries of Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) through adequate common activities and political agendas.

This is the first time I felt that something is moving in this so difficult as well as so troubled area of the world. Thanks to the efforts of the SWEEP – Net General Secretariat representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Mauritania and the Arab League were gathered and made an intensive workshop concerning the key-priorities on waste management, the strategy of the network, institutional consolidation, working groups etc.

I was positively surprised by some facts. First it was the level of some presentations which have been really well elaborated by the speakers. Second it was the feeling of “the necessity of such an initiative” I received from a lot of participants. Third, it was the understanding that although waste management is underestimated in the political agendas in this area, there are very well educated human resources that could upgrade it and deliver serious results.

So I left Tunis with more hopes for the future of waste management in MENA than I went there. And I think ISWA would be a real supporter and part of this network too, since it has a lot to offer and it is very well perceived.

Needless to say that I found some old and I made some new friends there (hopefully they think the same). I always feel very comfortable between Arabs and the hospitality provided by the organizers was a great one and really promoted the development of good relationships.

Thanks a lot to Anis Ismail, secretary general of SWEP- Net for his help and hospitality. And I hope we will soon meet again and deliver real results through SWEEP – Net.

Last but not least. For everyone that has not yet been to Tunisia, I can provide a guarantee of an unexpected warm and high – level hospitality by friendly people within the framework of a real impressive landscape and cultural monuments. Do not miss it if there is such an opportunity.


Industrial recycling networks

This is from "Science for Environment Policy", Issue 200, 17-6-2010,a periodical newsletter by DG Environment.

Recycling waste products between companies in industrial recycling networks can bring environmental and competitive benefits. A recent study on whether such networks can be used to advance sustainable development more broadly suggests companies first need a clear, shared network identity before other types of sustainability-oriented cooperation can take place.

'Industrial ecology' aims to reduce the environmental impact of industry by recycling by-products and waste from one company and using them as raw material inputs (resources) for another company. The concept of industrial ecology is modelled on natural ecosystems where all materials are recycled in an efficient and sustainable manner.

These industrial recycling networks can be considered a type of 'industrial symbiosis' (IS) project. Apart from providing economic benefits to all the firms involved, the environment also benefits from reduced raw material use, waste generation and emissions.

This study conducted a survey among companies from the general manufacturing sector of Austria, as well as firms belonging to recycling networks in Styria in Austria and Oldenburger Münsterland in Germany. It sought to understand whether IS projects can be used as a starting point for much wider cooperation amongst companies in terms of sustainable development. That is, whether they encourage further environmental protection and social responsibility activities.

The survey asked about the sustainability-related aspects of inter-company recycling activities and compared responses from companies within IS projects with companies that did not belong to such networks.

Surprisingly, companies belonging to the recycling networks passed on a
significantly lower percentage of waste products for recycling than companies in the general manufacturing sector (52 per cent for other companies compared with 39 per cent for the Styria network and 36 per cent for the Oldenburger Münsterland network).
In addition, companies that are partners in the recycling networks do not view their cooperation to be different to a regular customer relationship.

In particular, none of the companies from the Styria recycling network and only two companies from the Oldenburger Münsterland recycling network were aware that they were part of a wider waste recycling network. This implies that the companies view the recycling activities as a bilateral market relationship, rather than a shared value contributing to sustainable development.

Descriptions and charts can be used to understand the materials and energy flows for recycling purposes, but they do not reveal any information about the social level of the recycling networks. This study demonstrated there was no shared network 'identity' in the Styria or the Oldenburger Münsterland recycling networks.
In order for industrial networks to encourage new ideas about sustainability and become sustainability networks, it would be necessary to first create a network identity. From this a network vision of sustainability with common objectives could be developed.

Source: Posch, A. (2010). Industrial Recycling Networks as Starting Points for Broader Sustainability-Oriented Cooperation? Journal of Industrial Ecology. 14(2): 242-257.
Contact: alfred.posch@uni-graz.at


ARS is on the way up!

As I was flying from Buenos Aires to Frankfurt I was thinking about the ARS (Argentinean ISWA National member) Beacon Conference on Sustainable landfills I just attended. And I have to say that I was happy enough considering that the event was a great success for both ISWA and ARS.

For ARS, it was an event with massive participation (up to 500 hundred people) and excellent representation of more or less all the levels of government and municipalities. What a recognition for ARS and the restless efforts that they made! It is really impressive how many people are really interesting for waste management in a country that has just started to recover from an almost lethal financial crisis.

It is more impressive if you consider that such an interest is combined with lack of financial resources that could support infrastructure development.

For me, the first real lesson of the event was that ARS influence has really started to grow, maybe faster that ARS’ people consider. The second lesson is that there is a growing need for education and training in specific waste management issues, that ARS has the capacity to cover and thus there is a huge opportunity for strengthening of it.

For ISWA, the event was a proof of the successful work and promotion made by the Regional Development Network and of the political recognition it can have.

The example of Argentina is a real Beacon for all national members that may help them to understand the real power and strength that can be utilized from their membership to ISWA. Further, the example of Argentina proves that not all matters are related with financial resources and official policies: even with their absence, an active and well networked organization can deliver a lot and gain serious recognition.

Because the real and the most important difference is made by the passion, the quality and the commitment of the people involved – we should never forget that finally and after all ISWA is and will be an NGO that promotes sustainable waste management in practice which means through and by more and more informed, educated and globally oriented human resources!

Special thanks to Ricardo, Atilio, Sole and Maria for their (as always) perfect hospitality and logistics – guys I wish we could have two or three of you more in other countries.

Last but not least: combining those really good friends with the magnificent Buenos Aires explains why every time an Argentinean event is finished I wonder when the next will be. Even in the middle of the worst financial crisis in Greece…


PANORAMA of Solid Waste Management in Brazil and RIO AMBIENTE event

I was just attended an excellent event organized in Rio de Janeiro, within the framework of RIO AMBIENTE 2010. It was a two days international seminar on waste management technologies and systems, organized by ABRELPE, the Brazilian ISWA National member.

The event was organized on a high professional level and I have to say that it was one of the very few events, at least for me, in which all speakers made substantial contributions. Needless to mention that ABRELPE and Rio stakeholders involved provided a very warm and comfortable hospitality, as it is the Brazilian mentality and habit which created familiarity between the most different type of people.

As for the event, I was surprised by the deep and intense discussions made for the future of waste management in Brazil.

I think the highlight of the event was the presentation of the 2009 edition of PANORAMA of Solid Waste in Brazil, made by Carlos Silva Filho, executive director of ABRELPE and very good friend of mine. This is an excellent publication, made every year by ABRELPE, which presents more or less all the important data and evolution in waste management on a national and regional level.

It is not only the useful statistics and the very careful design that make PANORAMA very easily utilized. It is not just the professional level of the printing and editing work. The most important aspect I think is that reading such a publication (even the English summary) you have a very good idea of what is happening in Brazil, what are the main problems and of course which may be potential solutions.

As Carlos wrote in the preface of it “…themes related to solid waste gain an increasingly larger importance in the society (so) the annual update and deepening of data, which give origin to the industry panorama, becomes an indispensable instrument for the definition of strategies addressing the industry development”.

But except the impressive PANORAMA, all major issues discussed and sometimes with a lot of details. Here are just some of them:

The new national plan for waste management with emphasis to Reverse Logistics
The need for a national network of sanitary landfills
The necessity of treatment facilities for big cities with emphasis to thermal treatment plants
The international experiences regarding waste treatment and possible models that can be adapted in Brazilian conditions
The emerging regulation changes in order to modernize recycling activities and state control
The potential and the barriers for Public – Private Partnerships
The very important and characteristic role of scavengers and favelas in Rio de Janeiro waste management.

When the event finished I really felt that waste management in Brazil and especially in Rio de Janeiro is in front of a great challenge.

As the country rapidly increases its Gross Domestic Product, with rates that for 2009 were around 7%, the waste production is really booming, as several speakers confirmed. There is a very clear danger that dumpsites will be rapidly expanded as well and several environmental and health problems might be tremendous.

Brazilian market has more or less all the components required to deliver solutions for the emerging waste disposal crisis. Brazilian government seems to understand the problem but probably is not giving yet the importance required.

The upcoming Olympic Games 2016 in Rio create a window of opportunity for delivering waste management infrastructure. In Brazil, as I have the opportunity to see with my own eyes, there are a lot of human resources (and more are already prepared) and some institutions that can provide a substantial improvement of waste management in a relevant short – time. It is their time now to grasp this opportunity and create new and more efficient and safe waste management. And I feel that ABRELPE is really a key-partner of this effort.

I hope they will succeed - it is worth for this beautiful country and its warm people.

Congratulations to ABRELPE for the event but much more for the unique PANORAMA – I wish other ISWA national members to get the idea and implement it.

Carlos and Alberto, special thanks for all your hospitality and warmness, we really felt almost like home, as every time we visit Brazil. I hope that I will provide at least a similar hospitality when you come to Greece and I am more than grateful for giving me the opportunity to interact in so well prepared and interesting events.


A real special web-site !

For those ones who would like to have a very clear and regularly updated picture of what’s happening in waste management in Brazil, there is one and only solution. The excellent web-site:


During my recent visit to Rio I had the luck to meet the person who is behind this thesaurus of information and I was surprised by his efforts and hard work to sustain something that it is almost unbelievable to imagine that is elaborated by just one person, even if this person is a special one.

The site is available in Portuguese, Spanish and English language and it contains from new tenders in Brazil up to handbooks, best practices for several waste management activities, a lot of videos, legislation issues etc.

And most importantly, it is regularly updated on a weekly basis, at least.
Just subscribe with your e-mail and you will receive a weekly newsletter with all the updates.

This is one of the most impressive portals I have seen for waste management and it becomes much more impressive when you think that just one person is really delivering this content.

My Congratulations to Jose Henrique Penido, this is a real masterpiece. But it is also a serious indication that in Brazil there are very capable scientists and practitioners that can undertake the effort to upgrade waste management conditions and drove the country out of the dumpsites.

http://www.resol.com.br a site worth to visit!


A great event in Netherlands

Last week I was in Leeuwarden, Netherlands for the ISWA Beacon Conference on Waste Prevention, organized by NVRD, the Dutch National member of ISWA.

I had the honor and the pleasure to chair the first day of the conference and to watch carefully the second one. So allow me to say, that this was one of the most interesting conferences I have ever participated.

For a so difficult as well as complex issue as waste prevention is, there was a remarkable effective combination of theory and practice, in a way that I consider should be emblematic for ISWA’s events.

Very careful selection of high quality speakers, topics that cover the whole spectrum of waste prevention, intensive interaction between participants - speakers and a fruitful networking were just some of the advantages.

Beside them, a very warm hospitality and well organized events allowed participants to spend some happy time between the intensive conference sessions.

As for the content, the issues of behavioral science were well balanced with the changes required on the industrial level in order to achieve waste prevention in practice. Psychology, sociology and communication science should be combined with an industrial revolution (eco-design) in order to close the cycle of a lot of materials and achieve minimum environmental impacts from production and consumption of products.

I have to write my special thanks to all NVRD people for their hard efforts and the successful event. NVRD is really an organization that is going up, getting more mature as well as more effective, as I had the opportunity to understand with my eyes. Needless to say that it was a great honor for me to be one of the speakers in its annual congress.

Maarten, Eric my congratulations are a least recognition for your efforts. Participants’ comments and compliments are more than enough to encourage you, NVRD and ISWA to go on with such events.

keep walking guys, we need more such initiatives


Annual Waste Report for Italy

This a contribution by my good friend David Newman - thanks a lot David this is realy interesting

Last week the government institute for the environment in Italy, called ISPRA, published its annual Waste Report, using data from 2008.

There are some really interesting developments I wanted to share with your readers.

Firstly, for the first time in living memory, the amount of total MSW produced has decreased. Only a small total decline, some 0,2%, but in per capita terms a significant 2%. This is actually the third year that per capita waste production declines, while being the first year that this reduction has had an impact on the overall national figures.

The decline is evidently due to a reduction in consumption, that's a no-brainer. But we should take into account the last three years' per capita decline and part of the reason for this may lie in the prevention and reduction policies being enacted in some regions.

Secondly, while the amount of waste produced declines, the amount collected separately for material recovery increases again; an overall level of 30,6% of all Italian MSW in now collected separately and sent to reovery. This is indeed a substantial result; regions in northern Italy have attained levels over 50%, including densely populated industral regions like Lombardy, Piemonte, Veneto. Once again the south of Italy shows how under-developed it is, with overall recovery levels of 15% circa. In between sit the central regions like Tuscany, Marche, Umbria, Abruzzo.
Note the great strides ahead made by the Region of Sardegna where overall recycling levels have achieved nearly 40%.

Thirdly, where the recovery levels are highest is where the regions have enacted policies of separate collection of organic household waste. The 2008 figures show an increase in organic waste collection on 2007 of over 14%, to circa 3.340.000 tons. Organic waste now accounts for 34% of all the recycled waste collected, the largest single fraction, and with paper and cardboard, over 60% of all recovered waste.

This means that Italy is rapidly heading towards the goals of the Landfill Directive in terms of reducing organic waste to landfill.

Indeed the other good news in that the number of landfills has declined again, while the number of composting plants increased to 229.

Landfills still account for 44% of all our MSW disposal (about 32.000.000 tons) though in continuous decline; composting separate waste 7%; MBT 22% (a small reduction on 2007) and incineration still at 11%. The rest is recycled.

The report contains a load of informaion regarding the economics of the waste industry in Italy, as well as a comparison with EU countries.

You can obtain this very detailed and well presented report in Italian from the website www.atiaiswa.it in the next few days or from the ISPRA website now www.isprambiente.it


A very good ISWA Beacon Conference in Perugia

I just came back from perugia, Italy where I attended an excelent ISWA Beacon Conference on Biowaste Management organized by ISWA Italia. Congratulations to ISWA Italia and of course to my good friends David Newman and Enzo Favoino for their timeless efforts and the results achieved.

The conference structure and content were of a very high level and I have to say I was surprised by the steps that have been already done in certain EU countries regarding biowaste management. The program can be found at https://www.iswa.org/fileadmin/user_upload/_temp_/ISWA_Beacon_BTW_programme_01.pdf

Conference attendants and speakers supported with several strong arguments the neccessity of a biowaste directive, something which I think is required more than ever. Allow me to mention the lectures of Enzo Favoino, Florian Amlinger, Cestmir Hirdinka, Francesc Giro, Ricardo Rolandi and Eric Lombardi as the most valuable for me.

During the conference I made some new friends and I am sure I am going to meet them again and share ideas and concepts. Eric, Florian and Cestmir I am keen to see you again.

Composting green waste saves as much CO2 as energy recovery ?

This is from "Science for Environmental Policy", issue 191, 15 April 2010

"Recycling green waste as compost could match the environmental benefits of converting it into renewable energy, in terms of CO2 savings, according to new German research. It suggests that the two forms of waste management should be seen as complementary and both should receive subsidies.

Green waste is biodegradable waste, usually from gardens and parks, and includes grass, hedge trimmings, leaves and tree trunks. It can be used to produce energy in biomass power stations and receives a renewable energy subsidy in Germany. It can also be recycled as compost, which reduces the extraction of peat – an important sink for CO2. However, composting does not receive financial support in Germany. The EU is currently developing policy to encourage composting and develop standards for composting across the EU1.

The research compared the environmental benefits of energy recovery from green waste and of recycling green waste using 81 samples. It analysed the CO2 balance of each system by estimating the release and savings of CO2 at the different stages of the process chain. For energy recovery this included the transport, shredding, incineration and the CO2 saved from the renewable energy produced. For recycling this included stages such as transport, composting and CO2 saved by replacing peat. Four different types of green waste were considered that differed in their amount of wood, herbaceous/grassy material and soil.

The results demonstrated that waste with a high percentage of wood produced the most CO2 savings for both composting and energy recovery whilst those with only herbaceous and soil components produced the least savings. The CO2 savings from energy recovery varied from 126 to 1040kg of CO2 saved per tonne of green waste, depending on the type of waste and its composition. The CO2 savings from recycling varied from 259 to 1193kg of CO2 per tonne of green waste, again depending on the type of waste. This indicates that the environmental gains, in terms of CO2 savings, were similar for both energy recovery and recycling of green waste.

Notably, green waste with a high percentage of herbaceous/grassy content and soil content had twice the CO2 savings from recycling as from energy recovery. This is probably because this type of waste has low heating values, due to high water and ash content, and is therefore better for composting purposes.

The researchers suggested that energy recovery and recycling of green waste should be judged as complementary systems. It is unlikely that one method on its own will achieve the desired reduction in CO2 levels and a combination is more likely to lead to a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. As such they recommend that recycling of green waste be awarded equivalent financial support as the use of green waste to produce renewable energy.

1. See: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/compost/index.htm

Source: Kranert, M., Gottschall, R., Bruns, C. & Hafner, G. (2010). Energy or compost from green waste? A CO2-based assessment. Waste Management. 30: 697-701.
Contact: martin.kranert@iswa.uni-stuttgart.de "


No Need to Waste?

ISWA and NVRD are organizing the 2010 ISWA Beacon Conference on Waste Minimization and Recycling on May the 20th and21st in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.

The title of the event is representative of its content: "No Need to Waste".

As Waste prevention and recycling are becoming more and more integral parts of sustainable waste management and resource management there a lot of advanced approaches that can be rapidly dispersed and tested. This conference will provide participants with the latest information to improve their knowledge and performance in this field.

ISWA and the ISWA National Member in the Netherlands – NVRD have assembled a rich and exciting program that covers all the important topics for anyone with an interest in ‘Waste minimization and recycling’.

Among the confirmed speakers are Atilio Savino (ISWA president, Argentina), Stefan Bringezu (Wuppertal Institute, Germany), Hans-Christian Eberl (European Commission, Austria), Rachel Gray (WRAP, United Kingdom), Pål Mårtensson (City of Göteborg, Sweden), David Newman (ISWA Italia, Italy), Maarten Goorhuis (NVRD, Netherlands), Jan-Willem Scheijgrond (Philips, Netherlands), Jean-Jacques Dohogne (ACR+, Belgium).

The Beacon conference will be an exquisite opportunity to strengthen and extend networks with other experts and waste professionals from all over Europe and other parts of the world.

To register and for more information, please follow this link: http://www.iswabeaconconference.com/

The preliminary program will soon be published on the conference website.

I am going to be there and make my own contribution to this very interesting conference. I hope I will meet a lot of friends and coleagues.

CU there mates

A campaign I like

As we move towards a more and more intensive recycling new and innovative approaches for awareness and campaigns are developed. The last one that i like is described below (adapted by UNEP and
http://www.environmental-expert.com/newsletter/News_Waste_Recycling_25032010.htm )

"Adventure Ecology founder and environmentalist David de Rothschild and his intrepid crew; Jo Royle, David Thomson, Olav Heyerdahl along with National Geographic filmmaker Max Jourdan and Myoo Media's Vern Moen set sail on Saturday on the Plastiki, a unique 60ft catamaran engineered from approximately 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles and srPET, a fully recyclable material.

An 'off-the-grid' vessel relying primarily on renewable energy systems, the Plastiki and her crew will journey more than 11,000 nautical miles drawing attention to the health of our oceans, in particular the colossal amounts of plastic debris, by showcasing waste as a resource and demonstrating real world solutions through the design and construction of the Plastiki.

The Plastiki began her adventure nearly four years ago after taking inspiration from a report issued by UNEP called 'Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas' and Thor Heyerdahl's epic 1947 expedition, 'The Kon-Tiki.

True to Adventure Ecology's values, a compelling and pioneering expedition was needed that would not only inform, but would also captivate, activate and educate the world that waste is fundamentally inefficient design.

With more efficient design and a smarter understanding of how we use materials, principally plastic, waste can be transformed into a valuable resource, in turn helping to lessen our plastic fingerprints on the world's oceans.

The Plastiki expedition took influence from the principles of 'cradle-to-cradle' design and biomimicry before being realized by a multifaceted team from the fields of marine science, sustainable design, boat building, architecture and material science.

The journey to date has generated opportunity for tremendous curiosity, discovery and innovation as well as a platform for discussion, debate and action.

To follow the adventure, feed your curiosity, track the crews' individual stories, witness the challenges that our oceans and its inhabitants face and learn what you can do for our Planet, please log into the expedition's online mission control: www.theplastiki.com for regular updates, GPS positioning, crew blogs, photography and mini-films."


Romania becomes first country to introduce junk-food tax

This is from EurActiv Romania web-site.

A new tax on junk food products will be introduced as of March 2010 in Romania, the proceeds of which will go on health programmes, EurActiv Romania reports (www.euractiv.com).

The move appears to set a worldwide precedent.

The new tax is due by the juridical persons who produce, import or process unhealthy foodstuffs, with a high content of salt, fats, sugar and additives.

More precisely, the products are defined as:
 Fast-food products;
 The cake and candy-making industry;
 Snacks and crisps, and;
 Soda, except water and fresh bottled juice.

Health Minister Attila Czeke said on Tuesday (5 January) that he will introduce the fast-food tax in order to contribute to the country's health programmes. He also said he had asked his administration to prepare details of the exact modalities of the new tax. He promised to hold discussions with producers and distributors of the products in question.

The proceeds, to be collected as of 1 March 2010, will be considered income for the health ministry to spend on health programmes. The ministry justified its proposal by pointing out that more and more people in Europe suffer from obesity, increasing the risk of diabetes, hypertension and premature death.

"Unhealthy food boosts the number of fatalities and health spending, it reduces productivity, harms quality of life and reduces life expectancy," a ministry document says.

Dragos Frumosu, head of Romania's food industry federation, warned the tax will raise prices and cause producers to move their businesses to other countries, the Mediafax agency reported. Frumosu also complained that the draft law had been elaborated without a public discussion.

A fast-food tax, also referred to as a 'junk food tax' or 'Whopper tax', has been discussed for many years in the US but has never been introduced.


Consumer footprints for personal hygiene and cleaning products

This is from "Science for Environment Policy / Issue 177" (service from the European Commission)

A new study provides recommendations to reduce the environmental impact of personal hygiene and cleaning products on the environment. Researchers undertook life-cycle assessments of products including detergents, soaps and toilet cleaners, and compared their environmental footprints looking at different types of environmental damage.
Consumer products undoubtedly take a large toll on the environment. The energy and raw materials used in production, packaging and distribution of products obviously have an impact, but inefficient use of products by consumers can also add to the environmental burden. Most studies of the environmental impact of cleaning products have focused on laundry detergents and there is almost no public research available on household cleaning and personal hygiene products from a full life-cycle perspective.

With this in mind, Swiss researchers conducted a full life-cycle assessment of nine different products using data from industry and consumer behaviour studies. The products studied were: liquid and bar soaps, liquid and powder detergents, a stain removing detergent booster and a toilet care product, plus bath, kitchen and window cleaners. They calculated that the use of these products account for around 1 per cent of the 10 tons of CO2 equivalents produced by the average European consumer each year.

Crucially, the consumers themselves cause a large impact. The impact of these products on the environment would be substantially reduced if consumers could be encouraged to drive less often or smaller distances to buy their cleaning products, and apply only the necessary amounts, using cold water where possible. In many cases, replacing outdated household appliances could also help reduce the burden. However, different waste disposal or recycling options had little effect on environmental impact.

Recommendations arising from the study included the following:

• High water content can unnecessarily increase the amount of packaging needed for a product. Manufacturers should instead sell cleaning products in pouches to cut down on energy and materials required for packaging, production and transportation.
• There is little data available on the environmental impact of industrial production processes. More studies are required.
• Producers and retailers should consider offering and promoting refillable packages.
• The land and water use impacts of products made from vegetable oils should be carefully considered in the context of the location where the oils are produced.
• In general, more in depth life-cycle assessments are required to help guide policy making for more sustainable products.

Source: Koehler, A. and Wildbolz, W. (2009). Comparing the Environmental Footprints of Home-Care and Personal-Hygiene Products: The Relevance of Different Life-Cycle Phases. Environmental Science and Technology. 43(22): 8643-8651.