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.

Data on the recovery of wastes through thermal treatments (such as energy from waste) is considered on the Incineration page.

Recovery 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.

 Recovery (excluding energy recovery) of waste, by country, year, waste category and hazardousness, in tonnes

Metadata is available for waste statistics.


There are some key targets within the EU for the recovery of wastes. Within the revised Waste Framework Directive there are targets for the separate collection, reuse and recycling of wastes from Households and for Construction and demolition wastes:

  • By 2020, the preparing for re-use and the recycling of waste materials such as at least paper, metal, plastic and glass from households and possibly from other origins as far as these waste streams are similar to waste from households, shall be increased to a minimum of overall 50 % by weight.
  • By 2020, the preparing for re-use, recycling and other material recovery, including backfilling operations using waste to substitute other materials, of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste excluding naturally occurring material defined in category 17 05 04 in the list of waste shall be increased to a minimum of 70 % by weight …

Please note that for Key waste streams also specific recycling and recovery targets have been set. These targets are described in the dedicated pages.