The amount of recovered waste increases in 2020 – Products Eurostat News


Since 2004, the quantity of recovered waste has increased considerably (from 870 million tonnes in 2004 to 1,221 million tonnes in 2020). This means that the share of recovery in total waste treatment has increased significantly (from 46% in 2004 to 60% in 2020; from 100 to 140 index points).

On the other hand, the quantity of waste to be eliminated has decreased (falling from 1,027 million tonnes in 2004 to 808 million tonnes in 2020). This means that the share of disposal in total waste treatment has decreased by less than half (from 54% in 2004 to 45% in 2020; from 100 to 79 index points).

This information comes from waste data published today by Eurostat. The article presents some findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained article.

Source dataset: env_wastrt

Waste management and disposal can have serious environmental impacts. Therefore, the EU aims to reduce the environmental and health impacts of waste and to improve resource efficiency.

In total, some 2,029 million tonnes of waste were treated in the EU in 2020. More than half (60%) was treated through recovery operations: recycling (39% of total waste treated ), backfilling (15%) or energy recovery (6%). The remaining 40% was either landfilled (31%), incinerated without energy recovery (1%) or otherwise disposed of (8%).

Bar chart: Waste treatment by type of recovery and disposal, % of total treatment, 2020

Source dataset: env_wastrt

Significant differences could be observed between EU Member States in their use of these various treatment methods.

Very high recycling rates were recorded in Italy (83%), Belgium (74%), Slovakia and Latvia (64% each). In contrast, disposal by landfill and other was the predominant treatment category for the other countries: Romania (93% landfill, 5% recycling), Bulgaria (92% landfill, 8% recycling) and Finland (84% landfill – 10% recycling). ).

Want to know more ?

Take a look at the interactive graph on waste generation per capita in the EU, Member States and EFTA countries.

This graph is part of Eurostat’s interactive visualization tool which presents statistics relevant to the European Green Deal. It presents an overview of 26 indicators divided into 3 main themes: Reducing our climate impact, protecting our planet & our health and enabling a green & just transition.

For more information:

Methodological notes:

  • The term “waste” is defined in Directive 2008/98/EC Article 3(1) as “any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard”.
  • Waste treatment does not include exported waste but includes the treatment of waste imported into the EU. The quantities declared are therefore not directly comparable to those relating to the production of waste.

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