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

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

  • Incineration without energy recovery (covered by data on the Incineration page)
  • 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 Greenhouse gas emissions from waste disposal 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.

Disposal data

The Waste Statistics Regulation requires Member States to report treatment data in tonnes and by waste category. It has also to be indicated whether the waste is hazardous or not.

 Disposal of waste, by country, year, treatment type, waste category and hazardousness, in tonnes

Metadata is available for waste statistics.


The Landfill Directive implemented targets to reduce the quantity of municipal waste landfilled in order to reduce the greenhouse gas impacts associated with waste management. With 1995 as the reference year (100% by weight), biodegradable municipal waste to landfill must be reduced to:

  • 75% in 2006 (2010)
  • 50% in 2009 (2013)
  • 35% in 2016 (2020)
  • 10% in 2035 (2040)

Note: years in brackets show the targets for Member States that have been granted a 4 year derogation due to relatively lower performance in the baseline year of 1995 i.e. > 80% landfill rate in 1995.