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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Municipal waste generation - outlook EEA

Municipal waste generation - outlook EEA

This content has been archived on 11 Nov 2013, reason: Content not regularly updated
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Contents
 

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)
  • No published assessments

Justification for indicator selection

Since the use of resources and generation of waste accompany any economic and social activity, their environmental pressures are far-reaching and range from climate change and water pollution to soil degradation and loss of biodiversity.

Waste also represents an enormous loss of resources in the form of both materials and energy. The amount of waste produced can be seen as an indicator of how efficient we are as a society, particularly in relation to our use of natural resources and waste treatment operations.

Municipal waste is currently the best indicator available for describing the general development of waste generation and treatment in European countries. This is because most of the countries on Pan-European region collect data on municipal waste; data coverage for other wastes, for example total waste or household waste, is more limited.

Municipal waste constitutes only around 15 % of total waste generated in the EU-25, but because of its complex character and its distribution among many waste generators, environmentally sound management of this waste is complicated. Municipal waste contains many materials for which recycling is environmentally beneficial.

Despite its limited share of total waste generation, the political focus on municipal waste is very high.

The main purpose is to provide a measure of the environmental pressure on the of the generated municipal waste. The waste intensity represents a driving force indicator and shows response to raise the eco-efficiency of human activities. Waste generated per unit of GDP (total waste intensity) will show if there has been any decoupling of waste generation from economic growth. Municipal waste generation per capita allows comparisons of countries. (For each indicator, the two time series should be shown together to get the full benefit of the indicator).

The outlook presents plausible future of municipal waste generation in some countries of Pan-European region and can be used for estimation of its impact on environment (particularly when it comes to contribution to land-use and GHG emissions). It helps to assess achievability of targets and identify appropriate policy response options for making consumption patterns more sustainable.

 

Scientific references:

Indicator definition

Definition: The outlook indicator presents total municipal waste generation and by type of waste (paper and cardboard, glass, waste oils and used tires, packaging). It is expressed as index of waste generated in 2000. According to the definition from Eurostat municipal waste refers to waste collected by or on behalf of municipalities; the main part originates from households, but waste from commerce and trade, office buildings, institutions and small businesses is also included.

Model used: Waste and Material Flow model from EEA/ETC

Ownership: European Environment Agency

Temporal coverage: 2000 - 2020

Geographical coverage: EU 25: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Units

percentage of expected change between 2000 and 2020

Policy context and targets

Context description

 

Global and Pan-European policy context
No international agreements exist for reduction of municipal waste generation.  

EU policy context

6th Community Environment Action Programme

  • Better resource efficiency and resource and waste management to bring about more sustainable production and consumption patterns, thereby decoupling the use of resources and the generation of waste from the rate of economic growth and aiming to ensure that the consumption of renewable and non-renewable resources does not exceed the carrying capacity of the environment.
  • Achieving 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
  • A significant reduction in the quantity of waste going to disposal and the volumes of hazardous waste produced while avoiding an increase of emissions to air, water and soil;
  • Encouraging reuse, and for wastes that are still generated: Preference should be given to recovery and especially to recycling.

EU waste strategy (Council Resolution of 7 May 1990 on waste policy)

  •  Where the production of waste is unavoidable, recycling and reuse of waste should be encourage

Communication from the Commission on the review of the Community strategy for waste management (COM(96) 399)

  • There is a considerable potential for reducing and recovering municipal waste in a more sustainable fashion for which new targets also will be set.
  • There is a considerable potential for reducing and recovering municipal waste in a more sustainable fashion for which new targets also will be set.

The European Neighborhood Policy, STRATEGY PAPER

  • Priorities will be identified in key areas such as water quality, waste management, air pollution and the fight against desertification.

EECCA policy context

EECCA Environmental Stretegy

  • Development of inter-sector waste management action plans
  • National capacity building for the environmentally sound management of hazardous waste
  • Implementation of integrated systems of monitoring of waste transfers
  • Development of economic mechanisms to facilitate implementation of cleaner technologies and waste prevention and minimization as well as governmental support for waste treatment facilities
  • Development of efficient programs for waste management and management of chemical risks
  • Promotion of development of an integrated system for inventory of waste generation and accumulation (e.g. Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers-PRTR)
  • EECCA Environmental Strategy

 

Targets

EU level

Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste

  • By 2006, Member States are restricted to landfilling a maximum of 75% of the total amount by weight of BMW produced in 1995. This target increases to 50 % in 2009 and 35% in 2016.
  • Countries that landfilled more than 80 % of BMW produced in 1995 may postpone the attainment of these targets for a maximum of four years.

The 5th EU EAP had a target of 300 kg household waste per capita, but no new targets have been set in the 6th EAP because of very low success with the 300 kg target, which is therefore not relevant for further use.

EECCA level

Some countries have set national targets for the reduction of solid waste within a specified time frame however these targets are not reported at the international level. Special research is needed to identify availability of targets at the EECCA countries.    

Links to other related policies:

EECCA Environmental Strategy

The European Neighborhood Policy, STRATEGY PAPER

Related policy documents

Key policy question

What are the prospects of reduction of municipal solid waste?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

The outlook for the municipal waste generation was made based om the Waste and Material Flow Model.

Overview of the Waste and material flows model

The EEA's European Topic Centre on Waste and Material Flows, in collaboration with the Riso National Laboratory, has developed a macro-econometric model that projects the generation of waste and materials flows at the national level. The theoretical approach is rooted in macro-econometrics as the quantities of waste and material flows are projected as a function of future developments in the number of households, the size of population, or economic activity in the relevant sectors (e.g. production, gross value-added or private final consumption). Projections for waste oil and used tires are based on the 'car stock and end-of-life vehicles' vintage model developed by the Riso National Laboratory. Fossil fuel projections are based on the results of the PRIMES model using country-specific coefficients for transforming ktoe to tonnes. The domestic material consumption (DMC) indicator is reported for fossil fuels (i.e. domestic extraction + net trade (imports - exports)), while the domestic extraction only is estimated for minerals and biomass.
The calibration of the model over past data reflects the level of 'coupling' between the explanatory variables and waste and materials flows. Coupling or decoupling in excess of what happened in the past are an assumption fed into the model rather than a result of it. In addition, time trends that represent (autonomous) technological change are progressively phased-out over the projection period (at different rates depending on the waste stream and the country), leaving the dynamics of the model governed by the socio-economic explanatory variables. Finally, one has to note that the pieces of legislation are only implicitly included in macro-economic models.

For more information see: http://www.risoe.dk/rispubl/SYS/syspdf/ETC-RWM_working_paper_2005-1.pdf.

Use of scenarios

The model considered two scenarios: Baseline and Low Growth Scenario. The later one was developed to assess the (marginal) impact of the overall European economic situation on the waste generation levels.

Key model assumptions

Baseline scenario
The baseline scenario follows a conventional definition and expands on current expectations regarding macro-economic, sectoral, technological and societal developments, as well as including those policies that have been implemented and/or adopted, which typically refer to pieces of legislation such as EU directives or political agreements.

EEA's outlooks across the various sectors and themes use a common reference set of assumptions for the key driving forces to ensure consistency across the board and facilitate cross-cutting analysis. This reference set builds on the socio-economic assumptions developed for the DG TREN baseline projections 'European energy and transport trends to 2030', which are also being used within the Clean Air for Europe (CAFE, DG ENV) programme. Within this framework, assumptions have been developed as a consistent set and cover the following key driving forces:

  • population
  • macro and macro-economic activity
  • household expenditure
  • number of households
  • average household size
  • energy flows.

Population
The European population is expected to stabilize, but gradually to become an ageing society. Main demographical trends are presented in the Table 1.

Table 1 Demography - population development 1990 - 2030

Population (millions)

Year

EEA - 31

EU - 25

EU - 15

New - 10

1990

540

441

366

75

2000

563

453

379

75

2010

586

461

388

73

2020

586

462

390

72

2030

587

458

389

69

Average annual growth rates (%)

1990 -2000

0.4

0.3

0.3

-0.1

1990 -2030

0.2

0.1

0.2

-0.2

The age distribution in the EU is a growing concern, particularly in connection with pension and health expenditure and working life-time. While the accession of the 10 new Member States in 2004 has somewhat rejuvenated the EU population, it failed toreserve the trend of increasing old age dependency from 30% in the 1960s to 39% today in the EU-25.

This trend is expected t continue over the 2000-2030 period, with the share of people of 65 years and older in the total population increasing from 15% to 25% in the EU-15, and from 10% to 22% in the New-10.

The macro-economic assumptions
The macro-economic assumptions for Europe are moderately optimistic and entail challenging trade-offs in light of achieving sustainable economic development. Average annual economic growth in the EU is expected to be 2.4% and 3.5% in the New-10.  GDP assumptions are presented in the table 2.

Table 2. Income - GDP growth 2000 - 2030

GDP per capita (1000 Euro, year 2000)

Year

EEA - 31

EU - 25

EU - 15

New - 10

2000

17.1

19.7

22.6

5.3

2010

21.3

24.8

28.0

7.8

2020

26.9

31.3

34.9

11.5

2030

33.7

39.3

43.5

15.9

Average annual growth rates (%)

2000-2010

2.5

2.5

2.4

3.8

2010-2020

2.5

2.4

2.3

3.6

2020-2030

2.3

2.2

2.2

3.0

2000-2030

2.4

2.4

2.3

3.5

Technological developments
Technological progress is moderate but essential in key areas such as energy, agriculture and water, but no technological breakthroughs are assumed.More detailed information concerning technology can be found in the European Environment Outlook N4/2005 (pp. 22-23)

Sectoral developments
The service sector is expected to retain its predominance in the European economy and be instrumental in sustaining economic growth. The base line scenario uses specific technological assumptions at the sectoral level, which directly affect most of European environmental concerns. The explanations of such assumptions are available in the European Environment Outlook N4/2005 (pp. 23-24).

Low economic growth scenario
For the 'low economic growth' scenario (low GDP growth), it has been estimated (110) that moderately pessimistic assumptions would lead to average annual growth rates of 1.6 % to 3.2 % over 2000-2030 for different regions in Europe. In the baseline scenario, the growth assumptions range from 2.3 % (EU-15)to 3.5 % (New-10), which is considered to be moderately optimistic. In terms of GDP per capita in the EEA member countries, there is a reduction of 5.6 k Euro compared with the baseline scenario by 2030. In the 'accelerated renewables' scenario (RES), the targets for the share of renewable energy in total energy consumption are 12 % in 2010, 16 % in 2020 and 20 % in 2030. For the power generation sector, subsidies are introduced to achieve the targets of 27 % electricity generation from renewables in 2020 and 35 % in 2030.

GDP assumptions in the 'low economic growth' scenario (2000-2030)

GDP per capita (k Euro 2000)

Average annual GDP growth rates (%)

EEA-31

EU-25

EU-15

New-10

EEA - 31

EU-25

EU-15

New-10

2000

17.1

19.7

22.6

5.3

2000- 010

1.8

1.7

1.6

3.4

2010

19.9

23.0

25.9

7.5

2010-2020

1.9

1.8

1.7

3.4

2020

23.7

27.4

30.5

10.7

2020-2030

1.8

1.7

1.6

2.7

2030

28.1

32.6

35.8

14.5

2000-2030

1.8

1.7

1.6

3.2

Detailed key assumptions for the Low growth and Baseline scenarios can be found in ETC/RWM working paper 2005/1 (pp. 15-16).


 

Methodology for gap filling

The projection for each of the four groups of countries, EU-15, EU-10, CC3 and EEA2, is the aggregated sum of projections for all countries where projections are available. In general, the projections for the candidate countries and the two EEA countries are of some uncertainty since the two groups only contain two countries each. When comparing the the projected values with the actual, generated waste quantities in 2001 and 2002, the projection diverges for three countries (Germany, Belgium and Finland) in the EU-15, four countries in the new EU-10, and Bulgaria, Romania and Norway. Thus, the major changes in the Eastern European countries do make it more difficult to project the future trends.

Methodology references

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Data on waste quantities are scarce, particularly for the New-10. The uncertainty surrounding the projections may therefore be significant and the results should be reviewed in the light of the methodological approach used and additional data available at the national level. There also seems to be a need for further development of waste and material flow outlooks, particularly with regard to environmental pressures and economic damage. A key issue is the extent to which policy/management and technological options available at the EU, national or local levels can reduce environmental pressures, particularly for the recycling, incineration and landfilling routes and the associated emissions.

 

Data sets uncertainty

Data on waste quantities are scarce, particularly for the New-10. The uncertainty surrounding the projections may therefore be significant and the results should be reviewed in the light of the methodological approach used and additional data available at the national level.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Further work

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.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Anita Pirc Velkavrh

Ownership

No owners.

Identification

Indicator code
Outlook 005
Specification
Version id: 1

Permalinks

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Classification

DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

Geographical coverage

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