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Municipal waste generation - outlook EEA (Outlook 005) - Assessment published Jun 2007

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 08 Jan 2007 Published 08 Jun 2007 Last modified 11 Nov 2013, 04:20 PM
This content has been archived on 11 Nov 2013, reason: Content not regularly updated
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Generic metadata


Environmental scenarios Environmental scenarios (Primary topic)

Waste and material resources Waste and material resources

waste | forward looking indicators
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • Outlook 005
Geographic coverage:
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

Key policy question: What are the prospects of reduction of municipal solid waste?

Key messages

In the EU-15, most municipal waste streams are not expected to decouple significantly from GDP and none are expected to decouple absolutely. In the New-10, relative decoupling of waste from GDP is expected for municipal wastes. AS municipal waste generation is expected to continue to grow across Europe, the policy target of absolute decoupling is not met. This might lead to an increase in environmental pressures and stretch the waste management capabilities of countries with less developed infrastructure. The economic situation in Europe has a significant impact on municipal waste streams.

Growths in waste quantities and GDP (2020/2000)

Note: N/A

Data source:

European environment outlook, EEA Report No 4/2005

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

The following developments are expected for municipal waste quantities:

Baseline Scenario:
  • In the EU-15, municipal waste stream is expected to decouple relatively from GDP by 2020. However, none are expected to decouple absolutely. Municipal waste is expected to increase by 25% over the period.
  • In the New-10, relative decoupling from GDP is expected for municipal wastes which are expected to increase by only 10% by 2020. Similar developments are expected for Bulgaria and Romania (6% increase).
  • In absolute terms, municipal waste is expected to contribute 250 million tones per year in the EU-15.
  • Spain appears as the EU-15 country with the highest level of municipal waste per household (about 2.2 tonnes in 2030), while the average for the other countries is about 1.3 tonnes. In the New-10, the average is around 1.2 tonnes per household.
  • The impacts of the forthcoming implementation in the EU-15 of the landfill directive for biodegradable municipal waste have been estimated in terms of environmental pressures. Under the assumption that the directive's targets are met, landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste is expected to be reduced by about 15 Mt in 2006, 28 Mt by 2009 and 41 Mt by 2016. This diversion towards other waste management options would reduce the related emissions of greenhouse gas.
A 'low economic growth' variant

Since the waste generation and material flows outlook is based on a macro-economic model (see methodology), a 'low economic growth' variant to the baseline scenario has been developed to assess the (marginal) impact of the overall European economic situation on these environmental drivers. It has been estimated that moderately pessimistic assumptions would lead to average annual growth rates of 1.6 % (EU-15) to 3.2 % (New-10) 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.

The results of the variant suggest that the economic situation in Europe impacts significantly most of the waste streams, with a decrease on average of about 15 %. The industrial and construction and demolition wastes exhibit the highest sensitivity to GDP growth (- 58 % and - 22 % respectively), and this result appears reasonable. The effects in the New-10 are consistently estimated to be lower than in the EU-15 as their economic growth has been reduced by less than 10 % while the EU-15 are assumed to experience a drop of 30 %. The elasticity of waste to GDP growth would therefore be roughly estimated (i.e. on average) at 0.5 and 0.35 in the EU-15 and New-10 respectively.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Anita Pirc Velkavrh


EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)



European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100