Indicators: Information

Which indicators are used to monitor the progress towards a circular economy?

The monitoring framework on the circular economy as set up by the European Commission consists of ten indicators, some of which are broken down in sub-indicators.

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These indicators were selected in order to capture the main elements of a circular economy. The list is constructed to be short and focused. It uses available data while also earmarking areas where new indicators are in the process of being developed, in particular for green public procurement and food waste.

About half of the indicators in this framework come from Eurostat; others are produced by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW). The indicator on patents comes from the European Patent Office.

The monitoring framework which is depicted in the image below provides a snapshot of what we know today. To ensure consistent reporting, Eurostat will regularly update the monitoring framework available in this website section. The European Commission will continue to elaborate the indicators which need further developments, in particular regarding the methodology and/or data collections.

Monitoring Framework  © European Union

These ten indicators, for which data is available in the database, are divided into the following four thematic areas:


Icon Production and consumption © European Union

Production and consumption

This area comprises four indicators:

  • Self-sufficiency of raw materials for production in the EU;
  • Green public procurement (as an indicator for financing aspects);
  • Waste generation (as an indicator for consumption aspects);
  • Food waste.

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Monitoring the production and consumption phase is essential for understanding progress towards the circular economy. Households and economic sectors should decrease the amount of waste they generate. In the longer term, this behaviour may contribute to an increasing self-sufficiency of selected raw materials for production in the EU.


Icon Waste Management © European Union

Waste management

This area comprises two indicators:

  • Recycling rates (the share of waste which is recycled);
  • Specific waste streams (packaging waste, biowaste, e-waste, etc.).

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Increasing recycling is part of the transition to a circular economy. This area focuses on the share of waste which is recycled and actually returned into the economic cycle to continue creating value. The graphic below provides a short overview; the most recent data are available in the database.

Overview recycling rates  © European Union


Icon Secondary raw materials © European Union

Secondary raw materials

This area comprises two indicators:

  • Contribution of recycled materials to raw materials demand;
  • Trade of recyclable raw materials between the EU Member States and with the rest of the world.

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To close the loop, material and products need to be re-introduced into the economy, for example in form of new materials or products. Recycled materials replace newly extracted natural resources, reduce the environmental footprint of production and consumption and increase the security of the future supply of raw materials.


Icon Competitiveness and innovation © European Union

Competitiveness and innovation

This area comprises two indicators:

  • Private investments, jobs and gross value added;
  • Patents related to recycling and secondary raw materials as a proxy for innovation.

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The circular economy contributes to the creation of jobs and growth, as illustrated below. The development of innovative technologies improves product designs for easier re-use and promotes innovative industrial processes. 

Jobs, growth and investment  © European Union