Generation of non-mineral waste in EU-27 by sector
Justification for indicator selection
This indicator is part of a Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) indicator set which was developed on the basis of a framework for indicator based reporting on SCP. The policy question the indicator seeks to answer is one of 35 policy questions forming the core of the SCP Indicator Reporting Framework.
This indicator seeks to investigate whether the waste generated by European consumption and production is reducing over time, indicating if consumption and production is becoming more sustainable.
Reducing the generation of waste is the first step of the waste hierarchy as defined in the Waste Framework Directive and can play an important role in reducing our material resource inputs upstream as well as minimising the total environmental impacts of our consumption downstream via pressures resulting from the treatment of waste i.e. emissions to air, soil or water including GHGs.
- No rationale references available
This indicator shows the generation of waste, excluding mineral wastes from households and from key NACE* sectors (according to Rev. 2 categories**) in the EU-27 over time, both in absolute levels and indexed to 2004 levels, together with developments in GDP over the period 2004 to 2008.
The indicator distinguishes waste generated by the following sectors:
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing
- Mining and quarrying
- Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply;
- Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities;
- Services (except wholesale of waste and scrap), and
The following mineral waste categories have been excluded from the totals for each sector (waste codes according to the EU Waste Statistics Regulation):
- 11.3 dredging spoils;
- 12.1 12.2 12.3 & 12.5 mineral wastes excluding combustion wastes, contaminated soils and polluted dredging spoils; and
- 12.6 contaminated soils and polluted dredging spoils.
These mineral wastes have been removed due to the domination of such wastes in total waste, making it difficult to detect changes in other categories, and due to the very different treatment required by such mineral wastes compared to other types of waste.
*NACE ’is the acronym used to designate the various statistical classifications of economic activities developed since 1970 in the European Union (EU).’ (http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/NACE_backgrounds).
**Eurostat, EC (2008). NACE Rev. 2 – Statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community. Eurostat Methodologies and Working Papers. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-RA-07-015/EN/KS-RA-07-015-EN.PDF
Non-mineral wastes generated by economic activity expressed both in millions of tonnes and indexed to 2004 levels. GDP indexed to 2004 levels.
Policy context and targets
This question concerns prevention and minimisation of waste. The international policy framework for SCP was recently agreed at Rio+20 with the adoption of the ten year framework for action on sustainable consumption and production. The declaration ‘The future we want’ recognised the need to change unsustainable and promote sustainable patterns of consumption and production. More specifically the declaration states that ‘We recognize the importance of adopting a life-cycle approach and of further development and implementation of policies for resource efficiency and environmentally sound waste management. We therefore commit to further reduce, reuse and recycle waste (3Rs)’
Minimisation of waste is grounded as a key element of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) by an objective within the EU’s renewed Sustainable Development Strategy (2006) aimed at ‘avoiding the generation of waste’.
One of the objectives of the 6th Environmental Action Programme (EAP) (Article 8) is to achieve ‘a significant overall reduction in the volumes of waste generated through waste prevention initiatives, better resource efficiency and a shift towards more sustainable production and consumption patterns’.
Waste prevention is one of the priorities of the Thematic Strategy on the Prevention and Recycling of Waste which emerged from the 6th EAP.
The 2008 updated Waste Framework Directive (WFD) requires that Member States establish waste prevention programmes by the end of 2013 whose objectives should be to ‘reduce the adverse impacts of waste and of the amounts of waste generated.’ (Article 29). Waste prevention is the most preferred waste management option in the waste hierarchy given in Article 4 of the WFD.
The Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe (COM(2011) 571) notes that each year in the European Union 2.7 billion tonnes of waste is generated, 98 million tonnes of which is hazardous. The Roadmap.includes the milestone that 'by 2020, waste generated per capita is in absolute decline'. It calls upon Member States to ensure full implementation of the EU waste acquis including minimum targets through their national waste prevention strategies.
No quantified targets have been specified.
Related policy documents
Decision no 1600/2002/ec of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 july 2002 laying down the sixth community environment action programme
COM(2005) 666 final Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste
COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS Taking sustainable use of resources forward: A Thematic Strategy on the preventionend recycling of waste
Renewed EU strategy for Sustainable Development (2006)
full text of the Eu's renewaed strategy for sustainable development 10117/06
Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe. COM(2011) 571
The Future We Want –Declaration of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio (2012)
The Future We Want is the declaration on sustainable development and a green economy adopted at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio on June 19, 2012. The Declaration includes broad sustainability objectives within themes of Poverty Eradication, Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture, Energy, Sustainable Transport, Sustainable Cities, Health and Population and Promoting Full and Productive Employment. It calls for the negotiation and adoption of internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals by end 2014. It also calls for a UN resolution strengthening and consolidating UNEP both financially and institutionally so that it can better disseminate environmental information and provide capacity building for countries.
Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC)
Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives (Text with EEA relevance)
Methodology for indicator calculation
Figure 1: Total waste generation figures for each economic activity category as defined from national accounts (single figure NACE_R2 code industries) are downloaded from Eurostat along with some individual waste generation categories related to mineral wastes (11.3 dredging spoils; 12.1 12.2 12.3 & 12.5 mineral wastes excluding combustion wastes, contaminated soils and polluted dredging spoils; and 12.6 contaminated soils and polluted dredging spoils). For each category of economic activity the mineral waste totals as defined above are removed from total generation. Two suspicious items were removed from the data set: under NACE category 'Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply' data for Romania are excluded, being of questionable quality; under NACE category 'Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities' data for Ireland are excluded, being of questionable quality. For the graphic representation, all numbers are divided by 1000000 and presented as millions of tonnes. Subsequent total waste generation under each NACE category are stacked to produce a single bar showing total non-mineral waste generation for that year.
Figure 2: Total waste generation figures for each economic activity category as defined from national accounts (single figure NACE_R2 code industries) are downloaded from Eurostat along with some individual waste generation categories related to mineral wastes (11.3 dredging spoils; 12.1 12.2 12.3 & 12.5 mineral wastes excluding combustion wastes, contaminated soils and polluted dredging spoils; and 12.6 contaminated soils and polluted dredging spoils). For each category of economic activity the mineral waste totals as defined above are removed from total generation. Two suspicious items were removed from the data set: under NACE category 'Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply' data for Romania are excluded, being of questionable quality; under NACE category 'Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities' data for Ireland are excluded, being of questionable quality. Total waste generation minus mineral wastes for each economic activity for each year are divided by the total for the base year 2004 and multiplied by 100 to give an index. Fixed price GDP for the EU-27 was also drawn from Eurostat data and indexed to 2004 using a similar method.
Methodology for gap filling
No gap filling was necessary.
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
No uncertainty has been specified.
Data sets uncertainty
Data uncertainties have been identified in the case of Romania in the category ‘Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply’ and Ireland in the category ‘Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities’. Reported amounts of waste suffer quality issues.
Member States are free to develop their own methods for collection of waste statistics. This enables Member States to keep their established data collection systems and to minimise the changes needed to comply with the Regulation. However, the multi-method approach raises serious problems. It may result in methodological differences from one country to another, between different data sets from the same country and even within individual data sets. This makes it somewhat difficult to safeguard data comparability and to ensure high data quality. An assessment of the quality of waste statistics provided by countries to Eurostat is summarised in a report to the European Council which can be found here:
A second report summarising the data quality and adjustment process between Eurostat and the countries statistical offices can be found here:
The indicator does not address the hazardous waste element of the policy question.
It should be noted that the waste generation figures from all sectors when added up present some elements of double counting. Much of the waste generated by the waste management sector is secondary waste resulting from waste treatment. For example bottom ash from incinerators, or residual waste from waste sorting and recycling plants. The mass of this waste has already been recorded once in the waste generated by other sectors so such secondary waste represents double counting. From the next reporting period (reporting for the year 2010) these secondary wastes will become distinguishable from other wastes. They will remain shown in the indicator but will be clearly distinguished from other wastes so that trends in waste generation excluding secondary wastes can also be identified.
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoAlmut Reichel
ClassificationDPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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