Waste recycling

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: CSI 052 , WST 005
Created 29 Feb 2016 Published 07 Dec 2016 Last modified 07 Dec 2016, 09:43 AM
This indicator shows trends in recycling rates for two waste types: municipal solid waste (referred to in the text as municipal waste), and packaging waste, both on an aggregated European level and at country level. Recycling rates refer to waste recycled as a share of the waste generated. Higher recycling rates indicate a positive development towards using waste as a resource and moving towards a more circular economy.

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Rationale

Justification for indicator selection

The proposed core set indicators on waste (i.e. WST 004 Waste generation, WST 005 Waste recycling and WST 006 Diversion of waste from landfill) address relevant policy questions, referring to the objectives and targets of the 2008 EU Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), other relevant directives and the 2015 Circular Economy Package, as well as the 2011 Roadmap on a Resource Efficient Europe (COM(2011)571) and the 7th Environment Action Programme (7th EAP). These policy questions can also be expected to be relevant in the coming years, at least until 2020 (and 2030). 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.

The indicator on recycling shows whether Europe is making progress towards the overall objective to move European waste management up the waste hierarchy and towards a circular economy. This would meet the material demand of the economy through increasing the share of waste derived materials as secondary raw materials, thereby preventing the environmental impacts associated with extracting and refining virgin materials and contributing to the security of supply. The indicator shows trends in recycling rates for selected waste streams, aggregated at the level of EU-27 and wider EEA member countries, when data are available.

Due to the limited availability and quality of waste data, the indicator currently includes only municipal solid waste (hereafter referred to as municipal waste) and packaging waste. In the future, further waste streams might be added to the indicator when data that allow for recycling rates to be calculated in a similar way to municipal waste and packaging waste become available.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

This indicator shows trends in recycling rates for two waste types: municipal solid waste (referred to in the text as municipal waste), and packaging waste, both on an aggregated European level and at country level. Recycling rates refer to waste recycled as a share of the waste generated. Higher recycling rates indicate a positive development towards using waste as a resource and moving towards a more circular economy.

Units

The unit in all figures is percentage (%).

Policy context and targets

Context description

Europe’s approach to waste management has moved from reducing harm to human health and the environment from waste disposal towards treating waste as an important resource. The overarching logic guiding EU policy on waste is the waste hierarchy, which prioritises waste prevention, followed by preparing for reuse, recycling, other recovery and finally disposal or landfilling as the least desirable option. In 2011, the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe (COM(2011)571) contained a section on turning waste into a resource. This focused on prioritising reuse and recycling, and developing a combination of policies that help create a full recycling economy. Additionally, the Roadmap contained a milestone such that by 2020 ‘recycling and reuse of waste are economically attractive options for public and private actors due to widespread separate collection and the development of functional markets for secondary raw materials. More materials, including materials having a significant impact on the environment and critical raw materials are recycled…’.  

More recently, the 7th Environmental Action Programme, adopted in November 2013, stresses the need for full implementation of EU waste legislation with a particular focus on the waste hierarchy. The vision set out in the programme is that ‘recycled waste should be used as a major, reliable source of raw material for the Union, through the development of non-toxic material cycles’. While existing waste policies have been successful so far, there is still a large potential ‘in moving towards a circular economy where ultimately nothing is wasted’.

In 2015, the European Commission adopted the Circular economy package. The package sets out a vision and concrete actions along the whole value chain to move towards a circular economy in Europe, including during design and production, throughout consumption and at the waste stage. In this way, the circular economy concept is implemented not only through waste policies, but also through policies on industry, competitiveness, products and raw materials. 

EU waste policies include a number of specific provisions and targets for the collection, recycling and diversion from landfill of different waste streams, such as packaging, end-of-life vehicles, waste electrical and electronic equipment, batteries and biodegradable municipal waste. For example, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) sets targets for the recycling of packaging waste, and the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) set targets for the Member States for the preparing for re-use and recycling of at least paper, metals, plastic and glass from households and similar waste streams, and for the recovery of construction and demolition waste. One element of the circular economy package is a legislative proposal on waste that includes more ambitious targets for the recycling of packaging waste and municipal waste. 

Targets

Article 11 of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) includes the following targets to be achieved by all Member States:

  • By 2015, set up separate collection for at least paper, metal, plastic and glass.
  • By 2020, prepare for the re-use and recycling of waste materials - at least paper, metal, plastic and glass from households and possibly from other origins as far as these waste streams are similar to waste from households - to be be increased to a minimum of 50% by weight.
  • Choose between four different methods to monitor the recycling target according to Commission Decision 2011/753/EU. This indicator shows only data according to one method, which is the most ambitious one. Reliable and comparable data for the other methods does not currently exist.

 

Article 6 of the Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) includes the following targets:

  • no later than 31 December 2008, between a minimum of 55 % and a maximum of 80 % by weight of packaging waste will be recycled; 
  • no later than 31 December 2008, the following minimum recycling targets for materials contained in packaging waste will be attained: (i) 60 % by weight for glass; (ii) 60 % by weight for paper and cardboard; (iii) 50 % by weight for metals; (iv) 22.5 % by weight for plastics, counting exclusively material that is recycled back into plastics; and (v) 15 % by weight for wood.
  • Several Member States have varying derogation periods for these targets. Specifically, the derogation period for the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia was set to 2012, and for Malta to 2013. Poland is required to meet the minimum target by 2014 and Latvia by 2015. Bulgaria and Romania were not included in the Directive 2005/20/EC, amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste.

Related policy documents

  • 7th Environment 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’. In November 2013, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted the 7 th EU Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. This programme is intended to help guide EU action on the environment and climate change up to and beyond 2020 based on the following vision: ‘In 2050, we live well, within the planet’s ecological limits. Our prosperity and healthy environment stem from an innovative, circular economy where nothing is wasted and where natural resources are managed sustainably, and biodiversity is protected, valued and restored in ways that enhance our society’s resilience. Our low-carbon growth has long been decoupled from resource use, setting the pace for a safe and sustainable global society.’
  • Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy COM/2015/0614 final
    COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy
  • 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
  • Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste
    European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC of 20 December 1994 on packaging and packaging waste
  • 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

Are recycling rates increasing in Europe?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Figure 1 - Waste recycling rate in Europe: The recycling rate is calculated by calculating the waste recycled as a share of the amount of waste generated for each year. The municipal waste recycling rate is calculated by dividing the amount of municipal solid waste recycled by the amount of municipal waste generated for each year. Municipal waste recycling includes both material recycling and composting/digestion. Packaging waste recycling includes material recycling and other forms of recycling (such as composting and digestion).

Figure 2 - Recycling rates of municipal waste by country: The municipal waste recycling rate is calculated by dividing the amount of municipal waste recycled by the amount of municipal waste generated for each respective year for every country individually. The recycling rate includes material recycling and composting and digestion.

Figure 3 Recycling rates of packaging waste by country: The packaging waste recycling rate is calculated by dividing the amount of packaging waste recycled by the amount of packaging waste generated for each respective year for every country individually. The figure includes a line showing the recycling target set in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, which requires a minimum recycling rate of 55 % packaging waste by 2008, with derogations for several Member States (the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia: 2012; Malta 2013; Poland 2014; and Latvia 2015). Bulgaria and Romania were not included in Directive 2005/20/EC, amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste.

Methodology for gap filling

Where data for the latest data year are missing for a country, this gap is filled with data from the latest available year. Specific gap filling is indicated in the note below the figure.


Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been identified in the methodology used to process the indicator.

Data sets uncertainty

Data set uncertainties can be found directly in the metadata and explanatory notes provided by Eurostat.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been identified behind the rationale for this indicator.

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

Almut Reichel

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
CSI 052
WST 005
Specification
Version id: 1

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 2 years

Classification

DPSIR: Response
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)

Related content

Data references used

Latest figures and vizualizations

Relevant policy documents

Subscriptions
Sign up to receive our reports (print and/or electronic) and quarterly e-newsletter.
Follow us
 
 
 
 
 
Log in


Forgot your password?
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100