The European Environment Agency (EEA) is a body of the European Union (EU) with the objective of supporting the development and implementation of sound environmental policies in the EU and other EEA member countries by delivering timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policy-makers and the public. To accomplish this objective, the European Information and Observation Network (EIONET) was created, which is a partnership network of the EEA and its member and collaborating countries. It consists of the EEA itself, a number of European Topic Centres (ETCs, see below) which are expert of different consortia under contract with the EEA and a network of around 900 experts in over 300 national environment agencies and other national bodies dealing with environmental information. These are the National Focal Points (NFPs) and the National Reference Centres (NRCs) on different topics (such as waste or SCP).
European Topic Centres (ETCs) are consortia of organisations which are contracted by the European Environment Agency based on public tenders in every 4-5 years. They give support to the EEA in developing specific environmental topics. At the moment, there are ETCs on the following topics in place:
For further information about the European Topic Centre on SCP please refer to 'About ETC/SCP'.
Waste includes all items that people no longer have any use for, which they either intend to get rid of or have already discarded. Additionally, wastes are such items which people are required to discard, for example by law, because of their hazardous properties. Waste originates from many sources, not only from households, but also from industry and commerce. For detailed information about waste fractions and principal methods of waste treatment, please visit our thematic Waste site.
As the question of whether an item is waste or not may have very costly consequences, exact legal definitions are of high importance. In the section "Definitions and glossary" you can find definitions of waste terms deriving from different sources (e.g. EU, Basel Convention, OECD), including prevailing case law.
Material Flow Accounting (MFA) refers to a number of methodologies which can be used to provide information on the industrial metabolism, through which materials are continuously flowing. The cycle of this industrial metabolism starts with the extraction of raw materials, continues through the use of material and energy for production and consumption, recycling, and ends with final disposal. The majority of materials are released back into the environment in the form of waste and emissions after short term use. Another part is stocked in the economic system in terms of buildings and infrastructure for some decades destined sooner or later also to become waste.
Many environmental problems are directly or indirectly linked to the material throughput of the economy. Therefore, it can be said that material flows form the "bridge" between human activities on the one hand and environmental impacts on the other and that MFA methodologies can be used to provide a picture of these connections. Further information about material flows and MFA can be found in the section "Material Flows".
It stands for Sustainable Consumption and Production. Read more here about "SCP".
Life cycle assessment is a "cradle-to-grave" approach for assessing the environmental impact of a single product or system. An ideal LCA should include all stages in the product life cycle from gathering of raw materials for production through to the point where all waste materials and emissions are returned to the earth (or air or water). The total cumulative environmental impact resulting from the product can then be estimated by summing the environmental impacts from each element of the total system.
LCAs are often used by designers, industries or public procurement of services or products for comparing the overall environmental impacts of a number of alternative materials, products or services. Basing choices on this kind of analysis can result in reductions in direct and indirect environmental impacts over society as a whole. More on LCA technique can be found under the LCA section. Links to organisations and networks focussing on LCA can also be found.
Environmental indicators are developed to present environmental data in a way that the relevant information can be easily perceived. Information may deal with the state of the environment and its impact on human beings, ecosystems and materials, the pressures on the environment, the driving forces or responses steering that system.
Requiring a small number of policy-relevant indicators that are stable, but not static, and that give answers to selected priority policy questions, the European Environment Agency in 2004 identified a core set of 37 environmental indicators, including 2 waste indicators.
Comments and questions on the content of our website or the on the work of the European Topic Centre on SCP are highly welcomed. To send a message, please use the feedback button in the feedback button.