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EU Circular Economy Package Arrives

After months of deliberation following the axing of the previously agreed Circular Economy Package, the European Commission adopted a new package that will set a common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030.

In addition, the package see a common EU target of 75% for recycling packaging waste by 2030 and a binding target to reduce landfill to maximum of 10% of all waste by 2030.

According to the Commission the package will stimulate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy which will boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs. To help facilitate this transition the Commission accompanied the CE Package with its Action Plan on the Circular Economy which sets out measures to “close the loop” and tackle all phases in the lifecycle of a product, from manufacture to disposal.

The plan also includes a number of actions that the Commission said will target market barriers in specific sectors or material streams, such as plastics, food waste, critical raw materials, construction and demolition, biomass and bio-based products, as well as horizontal measures in areas such as innovation and investment.

The Commission added that the aim of the plan is to focus on issues where EU level action brings real added value and is capable of making a difference on the ground.

Unsurprisingly for such a highly anticipated announcement, many in the industry were voice their opinion on the package, which was broadly welcomed with some reservations.

“I welcome the new proposed Directive on waste from the Commission,” ISWA president, David Newman, told WMW.

“I am very glad they have taken into account many of the comments made by ISWA in our meetings with them. In particular the need for harmonised data and reporting comes out clearly. The move towards restricting landfilling of biowaste is very important as is the overall 10% landfill target for 2030. Derogations for some member countries are common sense,” he said.

However, Newman also cautioned that the the package needed to be firmer on the collection of biowaste.

“The wording needs strengthening to ensure compliance, because ‘should’ and ‘shall’ are different concepts. It is a severe weakness of the proposal that such collection is conditioned by feasability questions as revised article 22 indicates.”

That was a view echoed by the Resource Association’s Ray Georgeson.

“Proposals on food waste and separate collection appear to be weaker than many of us had hoped for, and the introduction of TEEF as a successor (for biowaste) to TEEP may not prove to be the Commission’s finest moment,” he said.

Air pollution takes 3.3 million lives per year

Farming emissions of ammonia are a leading cause of air pollution health damage and premature deaths in Europe and eastern United States.

Every year 3.3 million people die prematurely from the effects of outdoor air pollution worldwide – a figure that could double by 2050 unless clean-up measures are taken. This is shown in a study carried out by a team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, recently published in the journal Nature.

The study focuses on the most critical outdoor air pollutants, namely fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone. It is estimated that nearly three-quarters of the deaths are due to strokes and heart attacks, and one quarter to respiratory diseases and lung cancer.

This is the first study to single out different outdoor air pollution source-sectors and estimate the number of premature deaths they each cause, considering seven source categories: residential and commercial energy use; agriculture; power generation; land transport (i.e. excluding shipping and aviation); industry; biomass burning; and natural sources.

A surprising discovery, according to the authors, is that the two largest sources of health damage from air pollution are not industry and transport, but small domestic fires and agriculture.
Residential and commercial energy use is the largest source category worldwide, contributing nearly one-third of the premature deaths, and with particularly high shares in countries such as India and Indonesia. This category includes diesel generators, small stoves and smoky open wood fires, which many people in Asia use for heating and cooking. (Note that this study’s estimate of 1.0 million deaths per year from this sector is in addition to the 3.54 million deaths per year due to indoor air pollution from essentially the same source.)

By contrast, a leading cause of air pollution in Europe, Russia, Turkey, Japan and the eastern United States is agriculture. Ammonia is emitted into the atmosphere as a result of intensive livestock farming and use of fertilizers. It then reacts with other air pollutants, namely sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, to form ammonium sulphate and ammonium nitrate, which are tiny airborne particles.

Globally, agriculture is the cause of one-fifth of all deaths due to air pollution. In many European countries, its contribution is 40 per cent or higher. Since the abundance of ammonia is often a limiting factor in PM2.5 formation, a reduction in its emissions can make an important contribution to air quality improvements.

The finding that agriculture is the second-largest contributor to global mortality from PM2.5 is highly valuable, said environmental health expert Professor Michael Jerrett, at the University of California, because agriculture has generally not been seen as a major source of air pollution or premature death, and because it suggests that much more attention needs to be paid to agricultural sources, by both scientists and policymakers.

Other major sources are coal-fired power plants, industry, biomass combustion and motor vehicles. Taken together, they account for another third of premature deaths. Just under a fifth of premature deaths are attributed to natural dust sources, particularly desert dust in North Africa and the Middle East.

The authors conclude that: “Our results suggest that if the projected increase in mortality attributable to air pollution is to be avoided, intensive air quality control measures will be needed, particularly in South and East Asia.”

Christer Ågren
Source: Max Planck Institute press release 16 September, 2015
The article: “The contribution of outdoor air pollution sources to premature mortality on a global scale.” By J. Lelieveld, J. S. Evans, D. Giannadaki, M. Fnais and A. Pozzer. Published in Nature, 17 September 2015; doi: 10.1038/nature15371

ZERO WASTE TO LANDFILL, LANDFILL BANS: false paths to a Circular Economy

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Report: Waste Sector GHG Emissions Significantly Underestimated

The waste sector has a key role to play in the development of a low carbon economy and the reduction of greenhouse gases, according to a report published by Zero Waste Europe today.

The report, The potential contribution of waste management to a low carbon economy, was commissioned by Zero Waste Europe, in partnership with Zero Waste France and ACR+ and prepared by Eunomia Research & Consulting’s Ann Ballinger and Dominic Hogg.

It’s key finding is that the role waste prevention and improved waste management can play in reducing GHG emissions and the development of a low carbon economy has previously been significantly understated.

ZWE noted that in December, delegates from across the world will gather in Paris to negotiate a new climate agreement aimed at replacing the Kyoto Protocol. The parties to the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are progressively publishing their pledges in terms of GHG reductions which are supposed to limit global warming to under 2°C.

Among the many possible climate change mitigation solutions that are emphasised, according to the report’s authors, one that is consistently underestimated is the significance of waste management strategies.

One reason for this is said to be that the ‘waste’ section of the national inventories to the UNFCCC does not take into account most of the emissions from this sector. Emissions reported under this section mainly concern methane emissions from landfills. All the emissions related to the transport of waste and incineration with energy recovery are respectively reported under the transport and energy sections.

According to Zero Waste Europe (ZWE), the report also provides an accurate examination of the true impact of waste management on climate change and carbon emissions. It confirms that actions at the top of the waste hierarchy – including waste prevention initiatives, reuse and recycling – have considerable scope to reduce climate change emissions.

It is stated in the report that: “A climate friendly strategy, as regards materials and waste, will be one in which materials are continually cycling through the economy, and where the leakage of materials into residual waste treatments is minimised”. For example, recycling 1 tonne of plastic packaging can be a saving of 500 kg CO2 eq, whereas using one tonne less plastic packaging results in avoiding 6 times more emissions (3 tonnes CO2 eq).

The authors make 11 key recommendations, calling for waste policies to be redesigned in order to prioritise the higher level options of the ‘Waste Hierarchy’ (waste prevention, reuse and recycling) and immediately reallocate climate finance subsidies which are currently supporting energy generation from waste. These recommendations put a strong focus on correcting methodological issues that are currently preventing Member states and the European union from implementing waste policies that are efficient in terms of GHG emissions.

The report said that in the decarbonising economy required to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, technologies such as incineration will become less attractive options and ultimately present an obstacle to a low carbon economy.


Mariel Vilella, Zero Waste Europe’s associate director:
“For far too long the climate impact of waste management has been overlooked. Now it’s clear that waste prevention, reuse and recycling are climate change solutions that need to be fully integrated into a low carbon economy. Both at the EU and international level, it is time to shift climate finance support to these climate-friendly options instead of waste incineration, which in fact contributes to climate change and displaces livelihoods of recyclers worldwide.”

Delphine Lévi Alvarès, Zero Waste France’s advocacy officer:
“With France hosting the COP21 in December, it is a real opportunity to raise decision makers’ awareness about the real impact of waste management on climate change and the extent to which Zero Waste strategies have to be put on the agenda of solutions to climate mitigation supported by the French government.”

Françoise Bonnet, Secretary general of ACR+:
“Efficiency and smart waste management is key for a low carbon economy. Still, it is only the tip of the iceberg as a much bigger impact can be achieved through resource efficiency and adopting a life-cycle perspective”.

Read More

Consultation on North London’s 50 MW waste to energy replacement project
London’s 50 MW waste to energy project that could cost up to £500 million has taken a step forward with the second public consultation period under way…

Extended Producer Responsibility: Getting it Right
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) can be a strong policy principle in waste management. Over the years it has been introduced worldwide for different waste streams. Based on its European experience ISWA defines some key considerations for successful implementation of EPR throughout the world.

€6.4 EU Funding for Autonomous Nuclear Waste Sorting Robot
A project aimed at developing a robotic manipulation system capable of handling millions of cubic metres of unsorted radioactive waste has been awarded €6.4 million by the European commission.

Study finds Extended Producer Responsibility needs redesign for Circular Economy

A new study commissioned by Zero Waste Europe[1] and released today at a conference in Brussels [2] has found that the majority of product waste is not covered by current Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes and calls for the redesigning of producer responsibility in order to move towards a circular economy.

The study published today [3] analyses the waste composition of 15 European cities showing that 70% of municipal solid waste is product waste, and therefore not food or garden waste, and as such could be included under an EPR scheme. However, on average, only 45% of this product waste (by weight) is currently covered by producer responsibility schemes. This means that, on average, EPR schemes only cover 32.5% of total municipal waste, with coverage varying from 14.9% in Copenhagen to 47.6% in Paris. Furthermore, only 18% of product waste is collected separately through an EPR scheme.

Joan-Marc Simon, director of Zero Waste Europe said:

“The current interpretation of EPR was useful to increase recycling rates in Europe over last 20 years but it will need updating for it to help move us towards a circular economy. We call on the European Commission to use the upcoming waste package to include incentives to redesign systems and products in order to drive prevention and reuse, foster a serviced-based economy, put recycling as last option and progressively phase out disposal.”

The report makes a series of recommendations to the European Commission. Among these it calls for a broader definition and a more comprehensive approach to producer responsibility which includes the use of economic instruments. The introduction of legally binding eco-design requirements as well as better EPR schemes with full-cost coverage, individualisation, targets for separate collection and the expansion of the current EPR scope to include more products and incentivise reuse.

The study also finds that existing EPR schemes have been ineffective in driving eco-design, both because of its limited coverage of product waste and the lack of modulation of EPR fees based on eco-design. Zero Waste Europe urges the European Commission to develop minimum European-wide individualisation criteria based on eco-design.

Contact: Joan-Marc Simon,, +32 2503-49 11

The Potential Contribution of Waste Management to a Low Carbon Economy

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Europe plans to cut energy use, wastes and CO2 emissions by more stringent recycling

BERLIN — Visit a state-of-the-art recycling plant on the outskirts of this historic city, and one cannot help but marvel at the ambition of the facility owner, the Alba Group, one of the 10 largest companies for recycling services and raw material supply worldwide. At its Hellersdorf operation, more than 100,000 tons of packaging waste is processed annually, with the centerpiece a fully automated and very busy system of conveyor belts that distribute and sort assorted refuse by means of infrared sensors, overbelt magnets, sieves and air-blown separators.

The plant represents the best of German engineering and technological prowess. It was born out of a licensing fee system that has since 1990 turned the Germans into a nation of rubbish sorters, but the system, impressive as it may look, still has loopholes you can drive a garbage truck through.

While glass and paper are recycled at rates approaching 100 percent waste retention, plastics, by contrast, barely top 50 percent. Moreover, what’s counted as “recycled” often means the plastics were incinerated. Experts say Germany doesn’t track materials that are rerouted somewhere else, as the French system does.

As a result, German incineration plants’ appetites are huge. They import one-sixth of the required 16 million tons of garbage from the United Kingdom, where a high landfill tax drives waste out of the country. The country has 68 household waste incineration plants, which use district heating systems to pipe enough warmth for 3 million people. In addition, the facilities generate more than 6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity flow from the facilities — enough for 2 million people.

Every year, roughly 45 million tons of waste winds up in a category called “thermal recycling,” which has nearly doubled since 2004. Some blame that on misguided laws qualifying energy-efficient incinerators as part of the nation’s much-touted Energiewende, or energy revolution.

As a consequence, both Alba and Remondis — the market leader for packaging waste recycling in Germany — have had to scale back operations, as reported by the Handelsblattnewspaper earlier this month. Of Remondis’ original 17 sorting facilities for plastics, it now runs only three in full-time service.
The road to a ‘circular economy’

Looking ahead, environmental campaigners in Europe say a better approach should not only be a focus on increased processing — as is the German model. Rather, it should include a shift toward waste prevention that sees closed-loop approaches emphasizing everything from longer-lasting product design to remanufacturing and reuse systems.

“Resource politics in Germany tend to focus on ‘waste,’ and what we want to do is look at resources in the first place,” said Falko Leukhardt of the Council for Sustainable Development, a quasi-governmental organization that advises the German government and reports directly to the chancellor’s office.

The discussion about achieving what is called a “circular economy” is slowly coming about in Germany, Leukhardt added, but in a piecemeal manner that lacks a unifying vision.

Draft legislation being moved through the Environmental Ministry does, for example, extend producer responsibility laws to nonpackaging items like flower pots made of plastic, kitchen utensils and children’s toys. There is also a proposed system of licensing fees that will be graded according to environmental criteria. For example, it would reward easily recyclable mono plastics with a lower charge compared with heavier, composite plastics that are typically very expensive or even technologically impossible to separate.

These measures will likely shift the market toward greater use of recycled plastics, though to what extent remains unclear. Much of the demand for recycled material has dropped due to a fall in the price of oil, a basic feedstock used to make plastics, according to the BDE Federation, a trade association representing Germany’s waste management industry. Meanwhile, gaps in German recycling laws have enabled waste haulers to take their plastics to be burned in highly inefficient and unregulated cement kilns.

Germany’s road to this mess was paved with good intentions in a 2005 law that banned landfilling, explained Piotr Barczak, a waste policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau, a Brussels-based coalition of grass-roots environmental organizations from across the continent. While garbage incineration plants can be operated at relatively high levels of energy efficiency, they are, in effect, using energy to destroy resources. For every ton of waste burned in an incinerator, EEB estimates 20 percent of it will wind up as a hazardous ash that must be stored in a costly landfill.

“They are in a trap,” Barczak said of the Germans. “They have an overcapacity of incineration, creating a competition for resources that puts incinerators in direct conflict with recyclers.”

Extending the ‘useful life’ of products

As the European Union ponders a landfill ban, environmentalists argue there should also be simultaneous restrictions on incineration. That position has now been adopted by the European Parliament, the body that, along with the European Commission, has joint responsibility for crafting legislation. Viewed as the more environmentally active of the European Union’s institutions, on July 9 it passed a far-reaching set of measures that, among other things, establishes binding 2030 targets that substantially increases recycling rates for municipal (70 percent) and packaging (80 percent) waste.

The goal of the circular economy, then, is that products and materials should be kept at their highest utility and value at all times. Thus, plastic should remain plastic, and that incineration of nonrecyclable waste should be stopped after 2020. Incineration subsidies will also be cut alongside a pledge to gradually limit the landfilling of certain hazardous and residual waste streams.

Across the European Union’s 28 member countries, only 40 percent of materials in the municipal solid waste system is currently recycled. Roughly 25 percent is recycled with energy recovery, and the rest goes to landfills.

“This needs to change,” Frans Timmermans recently wrote in a blog post he co-authored with three colleagues from the European Commission, of which he is a first vice president. Led by Timmermans, the commission has opened a public consultation to collect views on a circular economy package that is said to be a more ambitious approach than one that was scrapped in late 2014.

“Products should be designed to be durable, shared, re-used, repaired and recycled,” wrote Timmermans, citing a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a British group that gives startling numbers on so-called planned obsolescence — the practice of designing products with a purposefully limited life span so that they need to be replaced sooner.

The “useful” life of physical products averages out to only four years, say the report authors, after which only 40 percent of all materials is reused or recycled, at only 3 percent of its original value.

“Even materials such as plastic bottles, steel, paper, deemed to be recycling success stories, experience as much as 75 percent loss of their value from the first time they are used,” Timmermans added.

“We need new material standards, secondary material markets and an upgraded recycling system.”

Use it here, burn it there is wasteful

What might a circular economy look like in practice?

Already the European Union has an eco-design directive that requires products to be more durable, repairable and recyclable. So far it only addresses energy-related white goods like washing machines and refrigerators. Advocates want to extend the provisions to provide product passports so that consumers have information on recyclable materials and repairability.

If the initiative succeeds, perhaps it might resemble a French law enacted in March that legislates against planned obsolescence. Moving forward, all French appliance manufacturers are required to inform vendors how long spare parts for a given product will be produced. Vendors are then required to inform buyers in writing, and failure to do so can result in up to €15,000 ($16,800) in fines.

France reportedly has plans to enact an additional measure next year that will require manufacturers to replace or repair faulty appliances free of charge for the first two years after they’ve been purchased — basically a mandatory warranty.

As for incineration, the discussion playing out in the Netherlands has already seen major generators like the Amsterdam Waste-to-Energy Co. begin to phase out the two oldest of its three incinerators in the medium term. It’s starting to invest in open networks — essentially smart grids for heat — to which other energy sources such as geothermal energy, biomass or generator-produced heat can also be connected, noted Nicole van Buren, project leader at the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure, an advisory board for the Dutch government on matters of sustainability.

“The investments in the heat network can turn into lock-ins when these networks can only be used for the energy from incineration plants,” said van Buren. “This lock-in would be a barrier for the realization of a circular economy.”

In the short term, a more immediate solution resides in simply viewing waste as a resource to be traded across borders, just like any other commodity. One could thereby help E.U. member states close down their landfills and simultaneously build up a recycling structure, said Leukhardt.

In the United Kingdom, for example, a high landfill tax now drives much of the waste out to countries like Germany and the Netherlands. That policy decision — to move toward higher recycling targets — was made by British leaders and is now being facilitated, in part, by waste incineration capacity in mainland Europe.

A similar arrangement could be established in Eastern European countries like Poland and the Czech Republic, where anti-incineration campaigners are pushing for more progressive recycling policy.

“The point is not just to carry truckloads of waste to Germany to burn it and enable the owners to make a whole lot of money,” Leukhardt added. “You would need to find a mechanism where money earned from burning waste here could be used to finance or invest in recycling structures in those other countries.”

The story of Gipuzkoa, the fastest transition towards Zero Waste in Europe

New case study: The story of Gipuzkoa, the fastest transition towards Zero Waste in Europe

This case study proves that a fast transition to meet EU recycling targets is possible in less than 5 years

Zero Waste Europe publishes a new case study and video showing the transition of Gipuzkoa towards zero waste. This province located in the Spanish Basque Country has almost doubled recycling rates in five years and made investing in an incineration plant obsolete.

In 2011, the Province of Gipuzkoa decided to scrap the plans to build an oversized incineration plant and took steps towards Zero Waste, arguing that the plant was highly resource-consuming and it heavily endangered the circularity of resources. On top of saving € 250 million, Gipuzkoa has managed to meet EU targets 5 years earlier than expected.

Today, the province separately collects 51% of its municipal waste and plans to meet 70% by 2020. These improvements are even more significant when considering that only one fifth of Gipuzkoa’s population live in municipalities that have followed a transition, which prove that the results of these municipalities are outstanding, some of them above 80 or even 90% of separate collection.

Executive Director of ZWE, Joan-Marc Simon said “the transition we are seeing in Gipuzkoa proves that reaching the EU target of 50% recycling is completely feasible in only 5 years. Therefore, with enough political it should be possible for laggards to meet the targets for 2020 and aim at more ambitious targets for 2030.”

The drivers behind this change have been: political will, citizens mobilisation and participation, prioritisation of biowaste collection, intensive separate collection at source and not having built incineration capacity which would hijack prevention, reuse and recycling.

In less than five years, Gipuzkoa has moved from pushing for an outdated finalist treatments for waste to become Spain’s leading province in recycling, being above EU’s 2020 targets, and 12 points above Spanish average. Gipuzkoan towns have also proved that kerbside collection remains cheaper than roadside containers, while creating jobs and local economic activity.

Today, these case studies show that, in contrast with the outdated idea of burning or burying our waste, preventing, reusing and recycling it create jobs and resilience, save money, and protect the environment and public health.

You can download the case study here.

Air pollution costs European economies US$ 1.6 trillion a year

AcidNews June 2015

A staggering US$ 1.6 trillion is the economic cost of the approximate 600,000 premature deaths and of the diseases caused by air pollution in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) European region in 2010. The amount is nearly equivalent to one tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the EU in 2013, says a new study by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Over 90 per cent of citizens in the 53 countries of the region are exposed to annual levels of outdoor fine particulate matter that are above WHO’s air quality guidelines. This accounted for 482,000 premature deaths in 2012 from heart and respiratory diseases, blood vessel conditions and strokes, and lung cancer. In the same year, indoor air pollution resulted in an additional 117,200 premature deaths, five times more in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.

Source: WHO press release, 28 April 2015. Link:$-1.6-trillion-a-year-in-diseases-and-deaths,-new-who-study-says

Cities’ air quality efforts ranked

AcidNews June 2015

Zurich topped a new ranking list of European cities based on efforts to improve air quality. It was followed by Copenhagen, Vienna and Stockholm. At the bottom of the list came Luxembourg and Lisbon.

The Swiss city of Zurich emerged as the winner of the second ‘Sootfree Cities’ ranking list that graded the efforts to improve air quality of 23 major European cities.

In 2011, the last time the ranking was published by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), the winner was Berlin (see AN3/2011). It slipped to fifth place this year.

The ranking concentrated on measures put in place in cities over the past five years and looked at air quality plans for the next five years to take into account changes that were already in the pipeline.

The list of categories evaluated included:

• Air pollution reductions;
• How comprehensive low emission zones & bans for heavy polluters are;
• How clean public procurement for transport is;
• How comprehensive the strategy for non-road mobile machinery is;
• What type of economic incentives are used;
• How successful the city is at managing road traffic and other transport modes;
• How comprehensive the city has been at promoting public transport;
• How successful the city is at promoting walking and cycling;
• Whether it provides attractive and comprehensive information to citizens about air quality.

In Zurich and Copenhagen the number of cars has been substantially reduced and there are restrictions on highly polluting vehicles such as diesel cars, trucks and construction machinery. At the same time, cleaner forms of transport, such as public transport, cycling and walking have been greatly expanded.

Arne Fellermann, Transport Policy Officer at BUND, commented: “Our ranking shows that cities across Europe have been actively fighting air pollution because of the EU’s air quality standards.

Although 90 per cent of Europeans living in cities today are still breathing unhealthy July, a proposal to revise the NEC Direcair, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vienna or Berlin have either met, or are due to meet, the EU limit values within the next two years. Zurich has already progressed well beyond the EU’s norms.”

None of the 23 cities reached grade A, which is awarded for cities that score at least 90 per cent of the maximum number of points. A total of six cities failed with an F grade, namely: Dublin, Glasgow, Madrid, Rome, Lisbon and Luxembourg.

It was pointed out that cities’ efforts to fight air pollution are hampered by inadequate action at EU level to fight air pollution, and that effective EU rules that reflect the emissions of road vehicles under real driving conditions are urgently needed.

The EU should also strengthen emission standards for construction machinery (so-called non-road mobile machinery), and tighten the overall air pollution emission limits in 2020, 2025 and 2030 under the National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive. The latter would cut the amount of pollution each member state is allowed to emit and reduce long-distance pollution, which cities are helpless to deal with.

Member states’ environment ministers will discuss the NEC Directive in June. Initive will be voted on in the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, followed by a plenary vote scheduled for September.

Louise Duprez, Senior Policy Officer for Air Pollution at the EEB, said: “Cities can do a lot to improve air quality, but they are left exposed to some pollution they can’t control. This includes pollution coming from outside the city, like emissions from agriculture or industry. The EU must be more ambitious if it wants to prevent deadly smog episodes.”

According to the European Commission, air pollution is the number one environmental cause of premature death in the EU, responsible for more than ten times the toll of road traffic accidents. In 2010 air pollution caused over 400,000 premature deaths as well as substantial avoidable sickness and suffering, including respiratory conditions and exacerbated cardiovascular problems. The annual external costs of these health impacts were estimated to range between €330 and 940 billion.

Source: EEB/BUND press release, 31 March 2015

For the full ranking, explanation of the methodology and the results for each city, visit: