Data - Waste

information on data

The EU regulations and directives on waste listed below require the submission of data from Member States to the European Commission.

Some of these EU directives have introduced recovery and recycling targets on, for example, packaging waste, end-of-life vehicles, batteries, waste electrical and electronic equipment as well as on construction and demolition waste. Data on these waste streams is required to monitor Member State's compliance with the targets set out in the directives.

  • Data on quantity, hazardousness and shipments of waste
    • Waste Statistics Regulation (WStatR)
    • Waste Shipments Regulation (WShipR)
  • Data for monitoring of the compliance with targets
    • Directive on Batteries (BATT)
    • Directive on End of life vehicles (ELV)
    • Directive on Packaging and packaging waste (PACK)
    • Directive on Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)
    • Waste Framework Directive (WFD)
  • Joint data collection with OECD
    • Municipal waste

These key requirements for data collection and reporting can be found under Methodology and Targets. In addition, there are also other reporting obligations which do not result in statistical data that can be presented on this website – implementation reports for EU directives are the main additional outputs.

Waste generation and management

The Waste Statistics Regulation (WStatR) aims: ‘to establish a framework for the production of Community statistics on the generation, recovery and disposal of waste'.

Information on waste generation is split by source (several business activities according to the NACE Rev. 2 classification and household activities) and by waste categories according to the European Waste Classification for statistical purposes (EWC-Stat).

Information on waste treatment is split by treatment type (recovery, incineration with energy recovery, other incineration, disposal on land and land treatment) and by waste categories. All values are measured in tonnes of waste.

Member States are free to decide their data collection methods. The main options are: surveys, administrative sources, statistical estimations or a combination of methods.

The user should be aware that reporting under the Waste Statistics Regulation was revised in 2010 by Commission Regulation (EU) No. 849/2010). The improved reporting structure will be applied for the first time in 2012 (for reference year 2010). The key changes are as follows:

  • Some new waste categories have been introduced and there has been a reorganisation of existing categories (e.g. mineral waste from construction, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, waste from waste treatment);
  • The waste categories in Annex I (waste generation) and II (waste treatment) have been harmonised;
  • A new treatment operation ‘Backfilling' has been introduced, so the former category ‘Recovery (excl. energy recovery)' will be split into ‘Backfilling' and ‘Recovery (excl. energy recovery and backfilling)';
  • The treatment category ‘Deposit onto or into land' has been regrouped:  to harmonise this category with the definition of ‘Landfilling' given in the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC).

Waste generation

The quantity of waste generated is an important indicator, e.g. for monitoring consumption patterns or the resource efficiency of industrial production. It can be used to measure an increase, or decline, of waste over time, and also the difference in generation between countries. Member States report the data on waste generation in absolute terms (by tonnes of waste generated). Eurostat calculates and presents waste generation also in kg per inhabitant.

However, due to the significant proportion of mineral wastes from extractive industries in some Member States, the data for total waste generation is not a particularly comparable indicator. Therefore, a separate indicator which which focuses on non-mineral waste has been developed and can be found under the  Indicator page .

The waste data is reported according to the economic activity of the waste generator. Under the Waste Statistics Regulation, waste data is categorised by 18 economic activities, NACE Rev. 2 codes, which are labelled (A to U) and households.

Waste management

On the basis of the treatment operations defined in the Waste Framework Directive a distinction is made between a number of treatment types (with associated codes):

  • Operation No. 1: Energy recovery: R1
  • Operation No. 2: Incineration without energy recovery: D10;
  • Operation No. 3a: Recovery (excluding energy recovery and backfilling): R2 to R11 (excl. backfilling) (*);
  • Operation No. 3b: Backfilling (*); (see guidance document on backfilling)
  • Operation No. 4: Deposit onto or into land: D1, D5, D12;
  • Operation No. 5: Land treatment and release into water bodies: D2, D3, D4, D6, D7.

(*) Note that the data until 2008 were collected differently from the above listing.

The changes due to the revision of the WStatR were as follows:

  • Operations 3a / 3b: No differentiation of backfilling, i.e. the operations 3a and 3b were reported together under the category Recovery other than energy recovery.
  • Operation No. 4 / 5: The categories D3 and D4 were reported under operation 4 instead of operation 5").

This section is organised by the following more general categories:

  • recovery (excluding energy recovery) (Operations 3a and 3b),
  • incineration (Operations 1 and 2) and
  • disposal (Operations 4 and 5). 

Recovery (excluding energy recovery)

Recovery means any operation the principal result of which is waste serving a useful purpose by replacing other materials which would otherwise have been used to fulfil a particular function, or waste being prepared to fulfil that function, in the plant or in the wider economy.

Recovery includes the recycling of materials from the waste stream. This has many benefits which include the following:

  • reduced carbon dioxide emissions associated with the offsetting of virgin materials used in manufacturing
  • reduced carbon dioxide emissions associated with landfilling or incineration and 
  • financial savings for industry that use cheaper recycled materials (see Material prices for recyclates page for more information on the price of recycled materials)

Recovery of wastes also includes other operations such as:

  • Composting and anaerobic digestion
  • Industrial processes to recover solvents, acids or bases, catalysts and oil, for example; and
  • Land treatment which results in agricultural or ecological benefit.

Incineration

The European Union (EU) has introduced measures to prevent or reduce air, water and soil pollution caused by the incineration or co-incineration of waste, as well as the resulting risk to human health. These measures specifically require a permit be obtained for incineration and co-incineration plants, and emission limits for certain pollutants released to air or to water.

Disposal

Disposal means any operation which is not recovery even where the operation has as a secondary consequence the reclamation of substances or energy.

In addition to data on the quantities of waste treated, the type and number of treatment facilities in each Member State is recorded.

Some wastes still have to be disposed of, using operations including:

  • Incineration without energy recovery
  • Landfilling
  • Deep injection
  • Surface impoundment
  • Permanent storage
  • Release into waste bodies, including the sea / sea-bed insertion.

Historically, landfilling was the main waste treatment method across the EU, so legislation was introduced which sought to reduce reliance on this disposal operation.

Council Directive 99/31/EC on the landfill of waste entered into force on 16/07/1999. The objective of the Directive was to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment from the landfilling of waste, by introducing technical requirements for waste and landfills.

See the targets page for a summary of the key issues, and a Statistics Explained article which describes greenhouse gas emissions from landfills and incinerators in more detail.

Waste shipments across borders

In the European Union (EU), shipments of waste across borders are regulated by Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 on shipments of waste, known as the Waste Shipment Regulation. This Regulation implements into EU law the provisions of the "Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal" as well as the OECD Decision. The Regulation includes a ban on the export of hazardous wastes to non-OECD countries (Basel ban) as well as a ban on the export of waste for disposal outside the EU/EFTA area.

The Waste Shipment Regulation stipulates a procedure of prior written notification and consent (notification procedure) before cross borders shipments of:

  • all hazardous waste
  • other types of waste, including certain non-hazardous wastes that are destined to certain non-OECD countries

These amounts are to be reported to the Basel Secretariat and to the European Commission .

More detailed data covering the period from 2001 to the latest available data can be downloaded Excel here.

Shipments of so-called green listed waste for recovery operations do not have to be reported to the Basel Secretariat and to the European Commission.

Key Waste Streams

Statistics for Key Waste Streams relate to:

  • Waste related indicators and
  • Reporting obligations – for Producer Responsibility Monitoring.

Waste related indicators

Waste related indicators are used to measure and track certain aspects of EU waste management. They inform about progress towards policy objectives and help Member States to improve their environmental performance.

Eurostat maintains a set of EU Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicator set, which was established to monitor progress towards the SDGs in an EU context.

The indicator set comprises 100 indicators that are structured along the 17 SDGs.  41 of the 100 indicators are multipurpose, i.e. are used to monitor more than one SDG. All SDGs indicators are grouped in sub-themes to underline interlinkages and highlight different aspects of each SDG.

The data for the waste related SDGs comes from the Waste Statistics Regulation or voluntary data collection of a small set of environmental parameters (the former OECD/Eurostat Joint Questionnaire on waste - Municipal waste generated and treated).

The three key SDGs for the waste sector are:

  • Generation of waste excluding major mineral wastes by hazardousness;
  • Recycling and landfill rate of waste excluding major mineral wastes;
  • Recycling rate of municipal waste.

Batteries

Batteries and accumulators constitute an essential energy source and play an important role to ensure that many daily-used products, appliances and services work properly. At the same time, waste batteries are potentially harmful to the environment.

The EU legislation on waste batteries, which is embodied in the Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC, regulates the placing on the market of batteries and accumulators and defines measures to maximise the separate collection and recycling of waste batteries and accumulators.

End of life vehicles

Every year, End of life vehicles generate between 8 and 9 million tonnes of valuable waste in the Community. The European Commission adopted a Proposal for a Directive which aims at making vehicle dismantling, reuse, recovery and recycling more environmentally friendly.

Directive 2000/53/EC sets out clear quantified targets for reuse, recycling and recovery of vehicles and their components and also pushes producers to manufacture vehicles with a clear view to their recyclability.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste arisings are relatively low compared to the generated waste total but potentially very damaging to both the environment and human health. The following key pieces of European legislation all relate to hazardous wastes:

  • The Waste Framework Directive lays down a strict control regime for hazardous waste. The Directive stipulates that hazardous waste must be recorded, identified and kept separated from other types of hazardous and non-hazardous waste. The properties which render waste hazardous are laid down in the Directive and are further specified by Decision 2000/532/EC establishing a List of Wastes (LoW).
  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is an international treaty which came into force in 1992 having been signed by 172 Parties. It is designed to protect human health and the environment from potential adverse effects of hazardous wastes, through the control of transboundary movements and disposal of hazardous wastes.  The driving force for drafting and adopting the Basel Convention was to prevent shipments of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries, a practise which had begun to take place as authorised disposal routes had become more expensive as a consequence of environmental regulations becoming stricter;
  • The Landfill Directive banned co-disposal of waste which in practise means that hazardous waste must be assigned to a hazardous waste landfill (and municipal waste must go to a landfill for non-hazardous waste).

Statistics on hazardous waste generation and treatment are based on the data collected under the Waste Statistics Regulation (WStatR) and are used for the compilation of the Sustainable Development Indicator ‘Generation of hazardous waste, by economic activity ’.

Municipal Waste

Municipal waste consists of waste collected by or on behalf of municipal authorities, or directly by the private sector (business or private non-profit institutions) not on behalf of municipalities. The bulk of the waste stream originates from households, though similar wastes from sources such as commerce, offices, public institutions and selected municipal services are also included. It also includes bulky waste but excludes waste from municipal sewage networks and municipal construction and demolition waste.

It is important to understand that the term ‘municipal' is used in different ways reflecting different waste management practices. Differences between countries are to some extent the result of differences in the coverage of these similar wastes. Waste generation figures and management rates for municipal waste will therefore be influenced by the proportion of commercial waste, for example, which falls under the definition. It is not clear which countries are following which approach from the data available here, so caution is advised when making comparisons across the EU.

Data on municipal waste generation and treatment are collected annually on a voluntary basis. The municipal waste indicator   Municipal waste generation and treatment, by type of treatment   is part of the EU Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicator set, which was established to monitor progress towards the SDGs in an EU context.

Packaging and packaging Waste

Packaging can have several main roles:

  • to protect the product, especially during transit;
  • to preserve the product;
  • to contain the product, e.g. in the case of liquids;
  • to provide information to the consumer regarding the product; and to market the product.

It is commonly made of a variety of materials including:

  • paper and cardboard;
  • wood;
  • plastic;
  • metal;
  • glass.

Producer responsibility arrangements are in place throughout Europe, introducing measures relating to the prevention, reduction and elimination of pollution caused by waste and the management of packaging and packaging waste.

The success of any recycling strategy is supported by a functioning market for secondary materials and the key policy mechanisms used.

Waste electrical and electronic equipment

Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) has been one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU in recent years. WEEE is a complex mixture of partially hazardous materials and components that pose considerable environmental and health risks if treated inadequately. Furthermore, modern electronics contain scarce and expensive resources.

EU legislation as established by Directive 2002/96/EC and the recast Directive 2012/19/EC sets out quantitive targets for separate collection, recovery and recycling/preparation for reuse of WEEE in order to ensure the environmentally sound management and to increase the recycling and recovery of WEEE.

Waste excluding major mineral wastes

Statistics on waste excluding major mineral wastes serve as a proxy for trends in total waste production and treatment. Waste excluding major mineral wastes reflects general trends more accurately than statistics on total waste and increases comparability across countries. Total waste generation and treatment are mainly driven by mineral waste from construction/demolition and from mining activities.

Waste excluding major mineral wastes reflects waste originating from all economic sectors and households, thus including waste generated from both production and consumption. It does not cover mineral waste and soil, of which 90% originate from the mining and construction sectors.

Statistics on waste excluding major mineral wastes are based on the data collected under the Waste Statistics Regulation (WStatR) and are used for the compilation of the Sustainable Development Indicator ‘Generation of waste excl. major mineral waste ’ and of the indicator set on ‘Management of waste excluding major mineral wastes’.

Reporting obligations

There are a number of EU Directives which have introduced producer responsibility measures. Data is required to monitor Member State compliance with the targets set out in the Directives.

The following key waste streams relate to these reporting obligations:

  • Batteries (BATT)
  • End of life vehicles (ELVs)
  • Packaging  and packaging waste (PACK)
  • Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)

Reporting

Guidance documents on data collections can be found under the Methodology page