Waste shipment statistics

Data extracted on 4 January 2019

Planned article update: November 2020


Between 2001 and 2016, hazardous waste shipments from the EU increased by 63 %, from 4 million tonnes to 6.5 million tonnes.

Between 2001 and 2016, hazardous waste shipments from the EU for disposal increased from 16 % of total hazardous waste shipments to 26 %; shipments for recovery decreased from 82 % to 73 %.

EU-28 treatment of hazardous waste shipped out of EU Member States to other EU Member States or out of the EU, 2001-2016

This article presents statistics on transboundary waste shipments in the European Union (EU).

In the EU, the transboundary shipments of waste are regulated by Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 on shipments of waste, commonly referred to as the Waste Shipment Regulation (WShipR). It implements the Basel Convention which bans exports of hazardous waste from OECD to non-OECD countries. According to the WShipR, all hazardous waste, as well as some problematic waste streams and other wastes defined by the WShipR, must be notified to the authorities before it is allowed to be shipped across borders. The terms 'export' and 'import' are used for transboundary waste shipments both within the EU and to other OECD countries. Detailed information about notified transboundary waste shipment can be found in the article on 'Waste shipment statistics based on the European list of waste codes'.

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General overview

The main findings based on the amounts of shipped waste out of the Member States are described below.

  • Hazardous waste is primarily shipped within EU Member States; practically, no shipments of hazardous waste to non-OECD countries were registered since 2010
  • The period from 2001 to 2007 is characterised by growing shipments of hazardous waste both for disposal and recovery peaking at 8.1 million tonnes of waste shipped from EU Member States in 2007. From 2007 to 2016 a decrease of 20 % is observed. The total development from 2001 to 2016 is a sign that the EU is increasingly acting as a single market.
  • Recycling/reclamation of metals and metal compounds and incineration with and without energy recovery dominates the treatment of shipped hazardous waste, but different types of recycling have increased. Landfilling of hazardous waste exported by EU Member States peaked in 2009 at 682 000 tonnes, followed by a decrease from 2010 to 2015, before increasing again in 2016 to reach 627 000 tonnes.

Shipments of hazardous waste - total amount and per capita

Between 2001 and 2016, the amount of hazardous waste shipments from EU Member States to other EU Member States or out of the EU increased by 63 %, from 4.0 million tonnes in 2001 to 6.5 million tonnes in 2016, peaking in 2007 at 8.1 million tonnes. There was an increase of 23 % from 2012 to 2013, largely due to increased export from Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Sweden and Italy showed the largest decrease of hazardous waste shipments during this period. From 2013 to 2014 there was a decrease of 9 %, largely due to reduced exports from France and the United Kingdom (cf. Table 1). The Netherlands had a large fall in exported hazardous waste from 2009. This decrease can be partly explained by changes in the classification of the reported waste: some wastes reported earlier as hazardous were in fact non-hazardous.

Table 1: Shipment of hazardous waste from EU Member States (1 000 tonnes), 2001-2016
Source: Eurostat

Over the period 2014-2016, EU-28 exports rose again by 7 %, mainly due to the increased exports from Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and the United Kingdom whereas France, Greece and Latvia reduced considerably their exports over the same period (cf. Table 1).

On a per capita basis, Luxembourg is at the top of the table with an export of about 626kg[1] in 2016 followed by Malta (253 kg), Belgium (63 kg), Ireland (58 kg), Denmark (48 kg) and the Netherlands (48 kg). Just over half of the EU Member States had exports of less than 10 kg per capita. (cf. Table 2).

Table 2: Shipment of hazardous waste from EU Member States (kg per capita), 2001-2016
Source: Eurostat

The interactive flow map on transboundary waste shipment shows, among others, the amounts of waste shipped out of each of the EU Member States (cf. Map1).

Flow map transboundary waste shipments, 2016.png Map 1: Flow map transboundary waste shipments, 2016
Click on the map for an interactive view of the data.

Treatment of exported hazardous waste

The amounts of shipped hazardous waste for disposal have increased from 600 000 tonnes in 2001 to about 1.7 million tonnes in 2016, and the amounts for recovery increased from about 3.3 million to 4.7 million tonnes (cf. Figure 1).

Figure 1:Treatment of hazardous waste shipped from EU to either other EU Member States or out of the EU 2001-2016
Source: Eurostat

As a percentage of the total, disposal has increased from 16 % in 2001 to 26 % in 2016. Correspondingly, the share for recovery has declined from 82 % to 73 % over the same period. However, since 2011 the amounts going to disposal have decreased and the amounts to recovery have increased.

The precise treatment of the hazardous waste must be reported by Member States. The treatment of waste is broken down by recovery and disposal operations listed in Annexes I and II to the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives. Incineration with and without energy recovery (codes R1 and D10, respectively, according to the Directive) dominates, accounting for 1.3 million tonnes, or about 20 % of the exported hazardous waste in 2016 (cf. Figure 2). The large difference of hazardous waste exported between 2009 and the following years for incineration can be explained by the change in the classification of Dutch waste. The changed classification resulted in an increase in the amount of non-hazardous waste shipped for incineration in the EU from 1.1 million tonnes in 2009 to 7.5 million tonnes in 2016.

Figure 2: Top treatment of hazardous waste exported by EU Member States (1000 tonnes), 2001-2016
Source: Eurostat

In 2016, about 715 000 tonnes of hazardous waste were incinerated with energy recovery and 572 000 tonnes without energy recovery. Both treatment types increased since 2001, from 554 000 tonnes for incineration with energy recovery and from 308 000 tonnes for incineration without energy recovery. Large increases are also observed in other types of treatment including recycling/reclamation of metals (R4) and recycling/reclamation of inorganic materials (R5). From 2001, recycling and reclamation of metals (R4) increased from 835 000 tonnes to 1.3 million in 2016. Recycling/reclamation of inorganic materials (R5) increased from 403 000 tonnes to 1.2 million tonnes in 2008, and then decreased to 815 000 tonnes in 2014, before rising to a new peak of 1.1 million tonnes in 2016. The export of hazardous waste for recycling and reclamation of organic substances which are not used as solvents (R3) decreased from approximately 710 000 tonnes in 2001 to 76 000 tonnes in 2016. Among the disposal activities, large increases occurred for landfilling (D1). Landfilling increased between 2001 and 2009 by 459 % from 122 000 to 682 000 tonnes, followed by a decrease until 2013 to 417 000 tonnes. Since 2013, landfilling has been subject to a continuous rise, reaching 627 000 tonnes in 2016.

Shipments of hazardous waste within and out of the EU

In 2016 approximately 91 % of the hazardous waste exports in the EU-28 were shipped to other EU Member States and 88 % were sent from EU-15 Member States to other EU-15 Member States (cf. Table 3).

Table 3: Origin and destiny of hazardous waste transboundary shipped from EU Member States (1 000 tonnes), 2001-2016
Source: Eurostat

The exports from EU-15 Member States to EFTA countries decreased from 171 000 tonnes in 2001 to 59 000 tonnes in 2005 and increased to 355 000 tonnes in 2016. A small amount of hazardous waste has been exported to non-OECD countries from 2001 to 2009. This conclusion is based on the reporting from Member States that have used the classification "national classified hazardous waste" for all waste that could not be classified under one of the Basel Convention’s Y-codes (Y1 to Y47).

However, hazardous waste (as defined by the European List of Waste) has, in these cases, not been transported out of the EU to non-OECD countries. This illustrates a classification problem encountered by many Member States. Within the EU, waste is predominately classified according to the European List of Waste and as there is no one-to-one relation between the European List of Waste codes and the Basel-codes Member States have to find solutions for waste that cannot be classified by one of the Y-codes in the Basel report.

Consequently, no hazardous waste exports to non-OECD countries have been recorded since 2010.

Export of all notified waste, in tonnes

Export of all notified waste (hazardous and non-hazardous) has tripled in the EU, from 6.3 million tonnes in 2001 to 21.6 million tonnes in 2016 (cf. Table 4). In addition to hazardous waste, notified waste includes mixed household waste, residues from the incineration of household wastes and certain other waste types, which according to the WShipR must be notified before shipment.

Table 4: Export of all notified waste from EU Member States (1 000 tonnes), 2001-2016
Source: Eurostat

The amount of notified waste has grown quite steadily since 2005 with the exception of the crisis years 2009 and 2010. Moreover, it dropped in 2012 because Finland has re-classified iron-oxide flows to China from waste to product, and therefore no longer notifies these shipments. The largest exporters are the United Kingdom followed by Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, France, Austria and Ireland. Austria had a very large increase in 2009 mainly due to the inclusion of excavated soil from an infrastructure project in the province of Vorarlberg.

Source data for tables and graphs

Detailed data from 2001 to latest available data can be found on Eurostat's dedicated section on waste Microsoft Excel 2010 Logo.png


According to the WShipR, all hazardous waste as well as some problematic waste streams and other wastes defined by the WShipR, must be notified to the authorities before it is allowed to be transboundary shipped. Member States are required to submit to the Commission before the end of each calendar year a report for the previous year on the amounts of notified transboundary shipped waste and the amount of hazardous waste generated. The submitted data regarding transboundary shipments of waste covers both waste shipped out of and into the EU Member States, and the latest data covers 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. By July 2018, all of the Member States had reported data for 2016.

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  1. Historically Luxembourg exported around 150 to 200 kg per capita of hazardous waste. In 2015 and 2016 Luxembourg exported very large quantities of soil and stones containing dangerous substances for disposal in Germany.