Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
The proposed core set indicators (WST 004 waste generation, WST 005 waste recycling and WST 006 diversion of waste from landfill) on waste address relevant policy questions, referring to objectives and targets of the 2008 EU Waste Framework Directive and other relevant directives, the 2011 Roadmap on a Resource Efficient Europe and the 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP). These policy questions can be expected to be relevant also in the coming years at least until 2020. As such, the proposed indicators reflect on the elements of the waste hierarchy, in particular on waste prevention, waste recycling and waste diversion from landfill.
Decoupling economic growth from the environmental impacts associated with the generation of waste is a waste prevention objective of the EU’s Waste Framework Directive. Waste generation – in absolute terms and compared to economic activity – is considered as the closest approximation to measure quantitative waste prevention. Waste prevention is strongly linked with economic development, but also production and consumption structures.
Waste prevention can be achieved by reducing the quantity of material/resources used in manufacturing of products and services and by increasing efficiency of manufacturing process and products used (quantitative prevention) and by reducing their hazardous contents (qualitative prevention). However, only quantitative waste prevention is covered by this indicator. Preventing waste by changing consumption patterns and by designing and consuming products that generate less waste are forms of strict avoidance of waste. In order to capture these two aspects, the indicator shows both waste generation in a production perspective and in a consumption perspective.
- No rationale references available
This indicator shows the generation of waste in two different phases: during the production phase, and during the consumption phase.
The production phase shows the generation of waste in absolute terms from manufacturing and services sectors (excluding major mineral waste) and their economic output expressed as GVA.
The consumption phase shows the generation of municipal solid waste (further in the text referred as municipal waste) and corresponding household consumption expenditure.
- Production phase: Indexed values of gross value added (GVA) in manufacturing and services sectors (in EUR) and waste volumes from two sectors (in tonnes) (2004=100).
- Consumption phase: Indexed values of household expenditure (in EUR) and municipal waste volumes (in tonnes)
Policy context and targets
Europe’s approach to the waste management has experienced gradual transition towards treating waste as an important resource. The waste management has been moving up in the waste hierarchy, with less waste landfilled, as a result of reduced waste generation and increased recycling and recovery efforts. Long-term waste policies have been successful so far, but there is still a large potential ‘in moving towards circular economy where ultimately nothing is wasted’.
Although importance of waste prevention has been recognised in European waste legislation since its first 1975 Waste Framework Directive , effective waste prevention measures in the Member States have been lacking. Was prevention was, however, highly visible in 2005 Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste and further underlined in the Waste Framework Directive . Article 4 of the Directive set that waste prevention measures should be considered a top priority when developing waste policy and legislation in the EU and Article 29 obligates EU Member States to adopt and implement waste prevention programmes.
Policies on the waste prevention still have to prove their effectiveness. According to the Waste Framework Directive, all EU member states had to adopt Waste Prevention Programmes by 12 December 2013. A first review of available programmes indicates that countries plan to use a broad range of measures with a focus on information-based instruments. However, only very few programmes include quantified waste prevention targets or economic instruments (EEA, 2014).
Waste prevention and using waste as a resource is becoming more and more important, not only in environmental policies, but also in industrial and raw material policies, and as a backbone of the transitions towards a green economy. In 2011, the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe (COM(2011)571) sets the ambition that waste generation per person should be in absolute decline by 2020. Two years later, the EU’s 7th Environment Action Programme recognises the need for additional efforts to reduce waste generation both per person and in absolute terms.
No quantitative waste prevention targets are established.
Related policy documents
7th Environmental Action Programme
DECISION No 1386/2013/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’
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
Council Directive 75/442/EEC of 15 July 1975 on waste
EEC, 1975, Council directive 75/442/EEC of 15 July 1975 on waste (OJ L 194, 25.7.1975, p.39-41), 75/442/EEC
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
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)
Key policy question
Is the generation of waste in Europe declining?
Methodology for indicator calculation
Raw data for waste generation (manufacturing, services and municipal) and economic parameters (GVA, household consumption expenditure) was retrieved from Eurostat. Data is aggregated into the widest possible geographical coverage; for production phase – manufacturing and services waste generation and GVA calculations cover EU-28 and Norway; for consumption phase – municipal waste generation and household consumption expenditure cover all EEA countries, except Liechtenstein. Frequency of data publishing varies from every two years (for waste generation for production phase) to every year (for all other data).
The aggregated figures are indexed to 2004, which means that the figure for each year is divided by the figure for 2004 and then multiplied by 100.
Notes on missing data:
- Production phase: The raw data of waste amounts for manufacturing and services sectors in tonnes and of GVA in million EUR are indexed for the year 2004. Countries have been excluded where no reporting took place for more than one year in the time series.
- Consumption phase: The raw data of municipal waste in thousand tonnes and household expenditure in million EUR are indexed for the year 2004.
Methodology for gap filling
- Production phase: Manufacturing and services waste data are missing for Croatia for 2006. The value for this data point was interpolated with data for 2004 and 2008. Data for household expenditure for Turkey is missing for 2011 and 2012. For these two years data for 2010 was used.
- Consumption phase: No gap filling required.
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
Data sources in latest figures
There is little uncertainty about the methodology used. More accurate comparison for consumption phase could be comparing household consumption expenditure with generation of household waste.
Data sets uncertainty
Data sets uncertainties can be found directly at the metadata and explanatory notes provided by Eurostat.
Waste generation can be used only as a proxy for measuring waste prevention.
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 InfoJasmina Bogdanovic
Frequency of updates
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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