Waste to Energy

Environment in the EU27 In 2011, 40% of treated municipal waste was recycled or composted, up from 27% in 2001

Waste-to-Energy

In the EU27, 503 kg of municipal waste1 was generated per person in 2011, while 486 kg of municipal waste was treated2 per person. This municipal waste was treated in different ways3: 37% was landfilled, 23% incinerated, 25% recycled and 15% composted, compared with 56% landfilled, 17% incinerated, 17% recycled and 10% composted in 2001.

 

 

The amount of municipal waste generated varies significantly across Member States. Denmark, with 718 kg per person, had the highest amount of waste generated in 2011, followed by Luxembourg, Cyprus and Ireland with values between 600 and 700 kg per person, and Germany, the Netherlands, Malta, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and Finland with values between 500 and 600 kg. Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Sweden, Lithuania and Slovenia had values between 400 and 500 kg, while values of below 400 kg per person were recorded in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Estonia.

This information4 is published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Recycling most common in Germany, incineration in Denmark and composting in Austria

The treatment methods differ substantially between Member States. In 2011, the Member States with the highest share of municipal waste landfilled were Romania (99% of waste treated), Bulgaria (94%), Malta (92%), Latvia and Lithuania (both 88%).

The highest shares of incinerated municipal waste were observed in Denmark (54% of waste treated), Sweden (51%), Belgium (42%), Luxembourg and the Netherlands (both 38%), Germany (37%), France and Austria (both 35%).

Recycling was most common in Germany (45% of waste treated), Ireland (37%), Belgium (36%), Slovenia (34%), Sweden (33%), the Netherlands (32%) and Denmark (31%). The Member States with the highest composting rates for municipal waste were Austria (34%), the Netherlands (28%), Belgium and Luxembourg (both 20%), Spain and France (both 18%).

Recycling and composting of municipal waste together accounted for more than 50% of waste treated in Germany (63%), Austria (62%), the Netherlands (61%) and Belgium (57%).

Municipal waste, 2011

Municipal waste generated,
kg per person
Total municipal waste treated,
kg per person
Municipal waste treated, %
Landfilled Incinerated Recycled Composted
EU27 503 486 37 23 25 15
Belgium 465 460 1 42 36 20
Bulgaria 375 371 94 0 3 3
Czech Republic 320 319 65 18 15 2
Denmark 718 718 3 54 31 12
Germany 597 597 1 37 45 17
Estonia 298 257 70 0 20 10
Ireland 623 560 55 5 37 4
Greece 496 496 82 0 15 3
Spain 531 531 58 9 15 18
France 526 526 28 35 19 18
Italy 535 505 49 17 21 13
Cyprus 658 658 80 0 11 9
Latvia 350 292 88 0 10 1
Lithuania 441 387 88 1 9 2
Luxembourg 687 687 15 38 27 20
Hungary 382 382 67 11 17 5
Malta 584 536 92 1 7 0
Netherlands 596 502 1 38 32 28
Austria 552 528 3 35 28 34
Poland 315 255 71 1 11 17
Portugal 487 487 59 21 12 8
Romania 365 293 99 0 1 0
Slovenia 411 351 58 2 34 6
Slovakia 327 312 78 11 5 6
Finland 505 505 40 25 22 13
Sweden 460 460 1 51 33 15
United Kingdom 518 514 49 12 25 14
Iceland 571 530 73 11 14 2
Norway 483 473 2 57 25 15
Switzerland 689 689 0 50 35 16
Croatia 373 371 92 0 8 1
Former Yug. Rep of Macedonia 357 357 100
Serbia 361 281 100 0 0 0
Turkey 395 333 99 0 0 1
Bosnia and Herzegovina 410 391 100

Data for the EU27, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina are estimated.

0 equals less than 0.5%

“-” indicates a real zero

  1. Municipal waste consists to a large extent of waste generated by households, but may also include similar wastes generated by small businesses and public institutions and collected by the municipality; this part of municipal waste may vary from municipality to municipality and from country to country, depending on the local waste management system.

For areas not covered by a municipal waste collection scheme the amount of waste generated is estimated. Wastes from agriculture and industry are not included.

  1. The reported quantities of waste generated and treated do not match exactly for some Member States, for the following reasons: estimates for the population not covered by collection schemes, weight losses due to dehydration, double counts of waste undergoing two or more treatment steps, exports and imports of waste and time lags between generation and treatment (temporary storage).
  2. Waste treatment refers to the following methods:

Landfill means the depositing of waste into or onto land, including specially engineered landfill and temporary storage of over one year.

Incineration means thermal treatment of waste in an incineration plant.

Recycling means any recovery operation by which waste materials are reprocessed into products, materials or substances whether for the original or other purposes, except use as fuel.

Composting means the biological treatment (anaerobic or aerobic) of biodegradable matter resulting in a recoverable product.

In principle, data on treated municipal waste only refer to waste treated within the Member State, and does not take into account waste exported for treatment. However, recycling capacities may be limited in small countries. Luxembourg is a case where recycled amounts include exports.