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Waste and Resource Depletion are Top Concerns of EU Citizens

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

According to the latest EU Eurobarometer survey, the generation of waste and the depletion of our natural resources are the top environmental concerns of EU citizens.

The survey, on ‘the attitudes of European citizens to the environment’, aimed to assess the attitudes, perceptions and practices of EU citizens towards the environment and environmental issues.  Almost 28,000 people from different social and demographic groups across Europe were included within this latest survey and the findings have now been published by the European Commission.

Along with waste management and resource depletion, the survey also found that air pollution and water pollution were high areas of concern.

The survey found that the vast majority of people think that the efficient use of natural resources and the protection of the environment can help drive economic growth, whilst a large proportion of citizens also say they are prepared to buy environmentally-friendly products, even if that means having to spend a little more.

A strong majority, at 93%, think that big polluters should repair any environmental damage that they do, whilst the introduction of heavier fines for pollution offenders was considered by many to be the most effective way of tackling environmental issues.

Other key findings of the survey were:

  • Waste generation, air pollution, water pollution and the impact on health by the use of chemicals were the top environmental concerns of most EU citizens.
  • Approximately 95% of respondents say that the protection of the environment is very important (53%) or fairly important (42%) to them personally.
  • Almost all respondents, at 96%, say that it is important for them that Europe uses its resources more efficiently.
  • A large proportion of respondents, at 86%, also feel that the impact of more efficient resource use would be positive on the quality of life of in their country.
  • More than 90% of respondents agree that they make efforts to reduce the amount of household waste that they generate, and 87% agree that their country as a whole is generating too much waste.
  • Around 71% of respondents say that reassurance that their waste is being effectively recycled would encourage them to separate more of their waste for recycling.
  • More than 96% of respondents feel that more initiatives are needed by industry to limit plastic waste and increase recycling.
  • The separation of waste for recycling (72%), the reduction of energy consumption (52%) and the reduction of water consumption (39%) were the three main activities undertaken by respondents to improve the protection of the environment.

To help address the environmental problems facing Europe the EU's Europe 2020 Strategy contains a set of environmental objectives, as well as a commitment to sustainability. To inform this process, and assist the European Commission in delivering the environmental goals of Europe 2020, this survey was designed to examine citizens’ impressions of the environment and environmental problems, and ask people how they think these issues might be addressed.

The full results of the survey, including a summary of key findings and an infographic factsheet can be found here on the European Commission website

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