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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Municipal waste generation / Municipal waste generation (CSI 016/WST 001) - Assessment published Dec 2011

Municipal waste generation (CSI 016/WST 001) - Assessment published Dec 2011

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 27 Oct 2011 Published 21 Dec 2011 Last modified 16 Feb 2015, 11:14 AM
This content has been archived on 16 Feb 2015, reason: No more updates will be done

This indicator is discontinued because data availability does not fully meet the requirements for EEA indicators.

This indicator is discontinued. No more assessments will be produced.

Generic metadata


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

Household consumption Household consumption

Green economy Green economy

soer2010 | waste | municipal waste generation
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 016
  • WST 001
Temporal coverage:
Geographic coverage:
Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (FYR), Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

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

Key messages

One of the most important objectives of the EU policy is to decouple waste generation from economic growth. Data shows that Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generation in the EU-27 has been stabilising after around 520 kg/capita since 2000, despite the continuous economic growth until 2008. The effect of the recent economic crisis can be a reason of the further reductions in 2008-2009.


Municipal waste generation per capita

Note: 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)

Data source:
  • Municipal waste provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Downloads and more info

Municipal waste generation per capita in Europe

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

Data source:
  • Municipal waste provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Downloads and more info

Key assessment

The recent EU policy instruments and strategies, such as the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) and the 6th Environmental Action Programme (EAP) prioritise waste prevention and decoupling of waste generation from economic growth and environmental impacts. In the European Union, a relative decoupling from economic growth has already been achieved since the stabilization of MSW generation after 2000 does not follow the simultaneous increase in the GDP. In order to estimate the potential decoupling from impacts to the environment, a more detailed assessment of the treatment is required. Contrary to the EU, municipal waste generation in the West Balkan region has been steadily increasing since 2003, going up to 340 kg/cap on average in 2009. Waste generation has closely followed the region’s upward trend in GDP, attributed to the rapid economic expansion provoked by the adoption of free market economies in the country.

Municipal waste generation rates in the EU-12, Turkey and the West Balkan countries are on average lower than in EU-15 and EFTA countries. In the EU-12 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 stabilisation of waste generation in the EU might have a number of explanations. 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. Another reason is the initiatives taken by some countries (mostly in EU-15) in the field of waste prevention. The actions are still limited, but some signs of effective prevention can already be observed.

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.

Furthermore, there are notable differences among countries both in the development of waste generation and its size. The annual generation per capita varies from 316 kg in Czech Republic up to 831 kg in Denmark in 2009. On the other hand, some countries have achieved a stabilisation of waste generation or even a reduction (e.g. Austria, Germany, Hungary) while others follow a constant increase (e.g. Denmark, Finland, Cyprus). Therefore, there is a lot of room for improvement if the measures applied successfully in some countries are transferred across the EU.



Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

User not found: bogdajas


EEA Management Plan

2011 2.5.3 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

This indicator is discontinued. No more assessments will be produced.


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