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Is waste generation de-linking from economic growth? Empirical evidence for Europe

By Massimiliano Mazzanti


The article provides empirical evidence on the de-linking of waste generation from economic growth. The data used refer to the European countries. An investigation carried out into packaging and municipal waste indicators shows that any de-coupling which has eventually taken place has been of a relative nature. Estimated waste elasticities with respect to income highlight that a hypothetical turning point, that would eventually characterize a Kuznets curve for waste, is far from being reached. Europe thus appears to be lagging behind in the effort to invert the relationship between waste and income/consumption indicators. The lack of policy targets in reference to waste prevention at source, in addition to recovery/recycling goals, may be considered as a primary policy-related reason behind the absence of a stronger de-linking process for waste in Europe. The applied panel investigation, though informative since it refers to a homogenous regional area, reveals the need for further work, exploring de-linking processes that focus on specific materials and/or countries.

DOI identifier: 10.1080/13504850500407640
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