Waste policies gone soft: An analysis of European and Swedish waste prevention plans

Nils Johansson, Hervé Corvellec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents an analysis of European and Swedish national and municipal waste prevention plans to determine their capability of preventing the generation of waste. An analysis of the stated objectives in these waste prevention plans and the measures they propose to realize them exposes six problematic features: (1) These plans ignore what drives waste generation, such as consumption, and (2) rely as much on conventional waste management goals as they do on goals with the aim of preventing the generation of waste at the source. The Swedish national and local plans (3) focus on small waste streams, such as food waste, rather than large ones, such as industrial and commercial waste. Suggested waste prevention measures at all levels are (4) soft rather than constraining, for example, these plans focus on information campaigns rather than taxes and bans, and (5) not clearly connected to incentives and consequences for the actors involved. The responsibility for waste prevention has been (6) entrusted to non-governmental actors in the market such as companies that are then free to define which proposals suit them best rather than their being guided by planners. For improved waste prevention regulation, two strategies are proposed. First, focus primarily not on household-related waste, but on consumption and production of products with high environmental impact and toxicity as waste. Second, remove waste prevention from the waste hierarchy to make clear that, by definition, waste prevention is not about the management of waste.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-332
Number of pages11
JournalWaste Management: international journal of integrated waste management, science and technology
Issue numberJuly
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul 13

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Management

Free keywords

  • Waste management
  • Waste plans
  • Waste policy
  • Waste prevention
  • Waste prevention programs


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