What does waste look like?

What does waste look like?

Not a silly question, since waste takes all forms and descriptions are many and varied, with different individuals seeing waste in entirely different ways, as a resource, a challenge, a loss, a nuisance, even as obscenity though rarely in more homely terms.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) is launching a new competition for artistic depictions of waste in Europe. Each European generates approximately half a tonne of household waste on average. A lot of this so-called waste is actually a useful resource, but only two fifths is recycled, according to a recent analysis.

Waste•smART is a new competition from the EEA, inviting entries in three categories – photography, cartoons and short films. The best entry in each category will win € 500, and there will be a further € 500 ‘youth prize’, given to the best entry from someone born between 1989 and 1995. The competition is open to citizens of the all EEA member and cooperating countries. All participants must be 18 or older.

Entries could touch on a variety of themes. For example, your entry could be a photograph illustrating wasted food, construction waste, landfills, and recycling. Or perhaps you have an idea for a cartoon showing how we can better reduce, re-use or recycle waste. If you are a filmmaker, you could make a video about how waste policy could be improved, or the resources and energy needed to maintain wasteful lifestyles. However, these are just a few ideas, entrants are encouraged to come up with their own angle.

There is a wealth of useful information on waste on the EEA website. For example:

  • The latest analysis from the EEA shows that citizens of some Member States recycle more than 60 % of household waste, however recycling is almost non-existent in some other countries.
  • Recycling has clear economic benefits, according to another EEA report.
  • Waste is also increasingly traded as a resource between countries.
  • Another report showed that Europe’s wasteful lifestyle means that we need to import a large proportion of raw materials from elsewhere.
  • Each person in the EU generates around 160 kg of packaging waste per year on average, according to the latest data.
  • Waste generates almost 3 % of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU.


Photos, cartoons and videos should be accompanied by a short text. The deadline for submissions is 30 September 2013 at 12:00 Central European Time. See the conditions of entry for more details.

Go on then. What’s stopping you?

Maybe this would be a suitable entry?



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