However, its toxicity, technical/infrastructure expertise needed to handle them and the harmful impact it could have on the environment have made hazardous waste a cause of concern. Most of the European countries have government agencies that take care of issues related to hazardous waste. They are also responsible for the development and implementation of policies related to hazardous waste.
Western Europe has a well developed hazardous waste management services market which was valued $8.10 billion in 2007.
"Waste management especially hazardous waste has always been given its share of importance in Europe", says Frost & Sullivan Research Associate Karthikeyan Ravikumar. "The changes made to the definition of hazardous waste in the European Waste Catalogue seem to have benefited the hazardous waste treatment market. It has widened the definition of hazardous waste thereby adding waste such as contaminated soil to the list of hazardous waste. This has considerably increased the hazardous waste volumes entering the treatment market. The implementation of the landfill directive in June 2002 too has had a huge impact on alternate treatment techniques. It has diverted waste previously disposed in landfills to alternate treatment techniques such as thermal treatment, physical/chemical treatment, stabilization and recycling. This directive has helped alternate treatment techniques especially in the recycling sector".
But let's see how the situation is in some European countries. Hazardous waste management services market is an important economic factor in Germany with more than 1,000,000 employees employed in the sector generating revenues of over $2 billion in 2007. The total volume of hazardous waste treated in Germany amounts to about 11 million tonnes in 2007. "Well developed policies, legislation and infrastructure have made Germany one of the dominant players in the European hazardous waste market," continues Frost & Sullivan analyst Ravikumar. "Strong infrastructure has further made Germany a key destination for hazardous waste in Europe. Increased waste generation, stringent laws and inadequate treatment facilities in other European countries especially the developing Eastern European countries has resulted in the export of waste to Germany. This trend is expected to continue because of the strong industrial growth witnessed in some Eastern European countries and some major market players are looking at those countries as growth markets for the future".
The United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland hazardous waste management services is the second largest market with a value of $1.10 billion in 2007. United Kingdom and ROI have historically relied upon landfill as a source of cheap and widely available waste disposal method. This reliance has effectively been changed with the implementation of the Landfill directive, which came into effect in 2004. As a result, a drift away from landfills towards alternate treatment techniques such as recycling and physical/chemical treatment of hazardous waste is the order of the day. This is a common trend observed all over Europe.
The historic decision of the French authorities to focus on incineration and valorization as the ultimate methods of disposal for hazardous wastes has made thermal treatment the most favored technique in France. The French hazardous waste management services market is the third largest in Europe with a value of $909 million in 2007. France has emerged as a major treatment center and import destination for hazardous waste from other European countries that lack the required infrastructure especially thermal treatment. Less restriction on the import of waste assisted by available capacity has made France a favorite destination for treatment and final disposal.
Italy, Iberia, Benelux, Alpine and Scandinavia are other major markets in Europe. The West European hazardous waste management services market which has reached maturity in many countries is expected to experience a stable growth for the next seven years.
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