Waste to Energy

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


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, %
Czech Republic3203196518152
United Kingdom51851449122514
Former Yug. Rep of Macedonia357357100
Bosnia and Herzegovina410391100

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.