BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union will tell its 25 member states to develop national programs to tackle soaring waste levels as part of a bid to create a «recycling society,» officials said yesterday. The European Commission announced plans to toughen up its 30-year-old rules on the treatment of waste, set new recycling standards, streamline existing laws and tighten regulation of the whole sector. «Waste volume has been disproportionately increasing, outpacing even economic growth,» said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. According to Dimas, municipal waste in the bloc rose 19 percent from 1995 to 2003. The increase means that reliance on landfills – widely considered among the least ecologically sound ways of dealing with waste – has fallen only gradually despite greater efforts at recycling, the EU executive body said in a statement. The revamped rules, and a first set of standards for waste recycling, are expected to come into force in 2008. National governments will then have three years to finalize their own waste action programs.