This EEA report argues that economic growth, technological progress and the way Europeans produce and consume resources all impact the environment. For the EU-27 Member States, the average annual use of material resources is nearly 15 tonnes per person. The bulk of this ends up as materials accumulated in the economy; the rest is converted into emissions or waste. More than five tonnes of waste per capita are generated each year. Forecasts predict that Europe will increase its use of materials as countries recover from the economic recession which started in 2008.
The report states that targets set in the recent past have not always been met: the EU was expecting to become 'the most resource‑efficient economy in the world' and 'substantially reduce waste generation', according to the Sixth Environment Action Programme (6EAP) adopted in 2002. The adoption in 2010 of the Europe 2020 strategy, which identified resource efficiency as one of its flagship initiatives, provides new stimulus to develop an economy which is competitive, inclusive and provides a high standard of living with much lower environmental impacts. These goals can only be achieved when there is a considerable change in production and consumption patterns.
In addition, the Report argues that Europe needs to curb illegal shipments of waste, tackle illegal or sub-standard landfilling, and fully implement its waste legislation. Full implementation of the EU Landfill Directive can, for example, have secondary benefits for climate change through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of 62 million tonnes of CO2‑equivalent in 2020 compared to 2008.