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Municipal waste generation (CSI 016/WST 001) - Assessment published Nov 2009

Generic metadata


Waste and material resources Waste and material resources (Primary topic)

Household consumption Household consumption

Green economy Green economy

soer2010 | waste | csi
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 016
  • WST 001
Geographic coverage:
Austria Azerbaijan Belgium Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Kazakhstan Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland Tajikistan Turkey Turkmenistan Ukraine United Kingdom

Key policy question: Waste prevention: are we reducing the generation of municipal waste?

Key messages

The generation of municipal waste per capita in western European countries has stabilised since 2000, albeit at a high level. Meanwhile the EU-12 has seen a steady decrease in per capita generation over the same period albeit with a slight increase between 2005 and 2006.


Municipal waste generation per capita in Western Europe (EU-15), New Member States (EU-12), EU countries (EU-27) and total in Europe (EU-27 + Turkey, Croatia, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland)

Note: N/A

Data source:

Waste statistics (Eurostat) : (Structural indicator) Municipal waste generated kg per capita, 1000 tonnes

Downloads and more info

Municipal waste generation per capita in Western Europe (EU-15), New Member States (EU-12), EU countries (EU-27) and total in Europe (EU-27 + Turkey, Croatia, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland)

Note: N/A

Data source:

Demographic statistics: Total Population (Eurostat)

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

One of the targets set in the 5th Environment Action Programme (EAP) was to reduce the generation of municipal waste per capita per year to the average 1985 EU level of 300 kg by the year 2000 and then stabilise it at that level. The indicator (Figure 1) shows that the target was far from ever being reached. The average amount of municipal waste generated per capita per year in many western European countries still exceeds 550kg.

The target was not repeated in the 6th EAP.  The new Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) rather includes a general objective to break the link between economic growth and the environmental impacts associated with the generation of waste. Since generation of municipal waste per capita has been stable in the EU-27 since 2000, while GDP increased by 16% over the same period (2000-2007), the generation of waste at least has been decoupled from economic growth. As a result, it is likely, though it does not necessarily follow, that the environmental impacts associated with municipal waste generation have also been decoupled from GDP.

Municipal waste generation rates in EU-12 are on average lower than in EU-15 countries and average generation appears to have remained relatively stable since the mid-nineties (although trends in individual countries are quite variable). This apparent stability in average generation has occurred during a period with strong economic growth as well as growth of consumption expenditure.  The causes of absolute decoupling in municipal waste generation per capita in EU-12 are not clear. Several countries of the region have reported that apparent decoupling in their MSW generation may partially be caused by changes in measurement methods. Weighing of waste deliveries at landfills has been gradually introduced in some EU-12 countries over the past decade. Previously the amounts were estimated according to volume. Since amounts of lightweight waste (e.g. packaging) are growing and amounts of heavy fractions (e.g. ash and slag) are decreasing, individual landfills may have overestimated weight of municipal waste in the years immediately prior to introduction of weighing, if based on even older waste composition data. This would lead to a reduction in recorded weight following the introduction of direct weighing of waste. Since weighing has been introduced gradually these numerous sharp changes would be smoothed out and may appear as a gradual decrease in waste generation in the respective country.

Other trends, such as those in consumption patterns and waste collection methods (e.g. limited collection of bulky waste), may also have played a role. Reporting systems may also need further development, especially regarding the definition of municipal/non-municipal waste in some streams e.g. waste from small enterprises and services, bulky waste and packaging waste.


Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Jasmina Bogdanovic


EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year in October-December (Q4)
Filed under: , ,


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