Diversion of waste from landfill

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: WST 006
Created 09 Jul 2019 Published 22 Nov 2019 Last modified 11 Dec 2019
5 min read
This indicator consists of three figures, which show trends in the landfilling of waste at European level (the EU-28 and other European countries for which data were available), and it focuses entirely on waste excluding major mineral wastes. Mineral wastes represent about 65 % of total waste and this exclusion enhances the quality of the indicator, as uncertainties over major mineral waste data and associated statistics (in particular construction and mining waste) are rather high. Major mineral wastes excluded from the indicator are, according to Eurostat and the European Waste Classification for Statistical Purposes (EWC-Stat, version 4), mineral construction and demolition waste (EWC-Stat 12.1), other mineral waste (EWC-Stat 12.2, 12.3 and 12.5), soils (EWC-Stat 12.6) and dredging spoils (EWC-Stat 12.7).  Combustion waste regards to waste code W124 according to ECW-Stat Waste Categories Reported under the Waste Statistics Regulation.   Fig. 1 combines two chart types. The stacked column chart represents the amounts and the proportions of waste deposited in landfill broken down into the most relevant waste categories. The category ‘other waste’ in the graph includes chemical and medical wastes, recyclable wastes, equipment wastes, animal and vegetal wastes, mixed and undifferentiated materials, and common sludges. The line chart, with the scale on the secondary vertical axis, represents landfilling rates. The landfilling rates relate to waste treated because imported waste is also included, which would not be the case if landfilling rates were related to waste generated. Decreasing landfilling rates indicate a positive development towards using waste as a resource and a more circular economy. Fig. 2 shows developments in landfilling rates in European countries in 2006 and 2017. Data are presented in descending order based on 2017 values. The line chart shows the landfill target for 2035 . Fig. 3 shows trends in municipal waste management for the period 2008-2017 and the distribution of specific waste treatment operations.  

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Rationale

Justification for indicator selection

The set of 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 Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), other relevant directives and the 2015 and 2018 circular economy packages, as well as the 2011 Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe (COM (2011) 571) and the Seventh 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.

This indicator on the diversion of waste from landfill aims to show how or whether or not Europe is progressing in terms of reducing the landfilling of waste, the least favoured option in the waste hierarchy. The indicator uses the total amount of waste excluding major mineral wastes sent to landfill annually at European level as the main indicator of progress towards diversion from landfill. In addition, information at country level on landfilling rates aims to demonstrate progress in waste policy implementation at national level with reference to the targets set in the EU Landfill Directive.

 

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

This indicator consists of three figures, which show trends in the landfilling of waste at European level (the EU-28 and other European countries for which data were available), and it focuses entirely on waste excluding major mineral wastes. Mineral wastes represent about 65 % of total waste and this exclusion enhances the quality of the indicator, as uncertainties over major mineral waste data and associated statistics (in particular construction and mining waste) are rather high. Major mineral wastes excluded from the indicator are, according to Eurostat and the European Waste Classification for Statistical Purposes (EWC-Stat, version 4), mineral construction and demolition waste (EWC-Stat 12.1), other mineral waste (EWC-Stat 12.2, 12.3 and 12.5), soils (EWC-Stat 12.6) and dredging spoils (EWC-Stat 12.7). Combustion waste regards to waste code W124 according to ECW-Stat Waste Categories Reported under the Waste Statistics Regulation.


 

Fig. 1 combines two chart types. The stacked column chart represents the amounts and the proportions of waste deposited in landfill broken down into the most relevant waste categories. The category ‘other waste’ in the graph includes chemical and medical wastes, recyclable wastes, equipment wastes, animal and vegetal wastes, mixed and undifferentiated materials, and common sludges. The line chart, with the scale on the secondary vertical axis, represents landfilling rates. The landfilling rates relate to waste treated because imported waste is also included, which would not be the case if landfilling rates were related to waste generated. Decreasing landfilling rates indicate a positive development towards using waste as a resource and a more circular economy.

Fig. 2 shows developments in landfilling rates in European countries in 2006 and 2017. Data are presented in descending order based on 2017 values. The line chart shows the landfill target for 2035.

Fig. 3 shows trends in municipal waste management for the period 2008-2017 and the distribution of specific waste treatment operations.

 

Units

The unit used to indicate landfilling rates in all figures is percentage (%). In addition, in Fig. 1 the amount of waste landfilled is expressed in millions of tonnes.

 

Policy context and targets

Context description

Current EU waste policy is based on the waste hierarchy, which prioritises waste prevention, followed by preparing for reuse, recycling, other recovery and, finally, disposal or landfilling, which is the least desirable option. Landfilling is considered one of the least suitable methods for waste management because it not only leads to significant material loss, but also poses risks to the environment (production of greenhouse gases, water and air pollution, etc.). The main underlying principle of a circular economy is to keep resources and their value in the economy for as long as possible rather than lose them as waste.

The 2011 Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe (COM (2011) 571) contains a section focused on turning waste into resources and developing a combination of policies that help to create a full recycling economy. In 2013, the 7th EAP was adopted. It also focuses on turning waste into resources (with the prevention of waste generation being the highest priority, followed by reuse and recycling) as well as on 'phasing out wasteful and damaging practices like landfilling'.

EU waste policies include several specific provisions and targets for the collection, recycling and diversion from landfill of different waste streams. The circular economy package was adopted by the European Commission in 2015 and contains an action plan for a circular economy and legislative proposals that set targets and a framework for waste management at EU and Member State levels and facilitate a transition to a more circular economy. Directive 2018/850/EC amending Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfilling of waste contains the provision of applying appropriate measures until 2035, restricting the landfilling of all waste that is suitable for recycling or other material or energy recovery. This directive sets the target that by 2030 the amount of municipal waste landfilled must be reduced to 10 % of the total amount of municipal waste generated.

The diversion of waste from landfill and the decreasing of risks connected with emissions to air, water and soil are dominant interests at the global level too. In 2015, The United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 12 includes several targets aimed at 'ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns', including the target to 'achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment' by 2020 (SDG 12.4).

 

Targets

Article V of Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfilling of waste was amended by Directive (EU) 2018/850 and includes the following targets for all Member States:

    • By 2035, the amount of municipal waste landfilled should be reduced to 10 % or less of the total amount of municipal waste generated (by weight).
    • By 2030, waste that is suitable for recycling or other material or energy recovery should not be landfilled
    • Separately collected waste should not be accepted in landfills

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
  • Directive (EU) 2018/850 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste
    Directive (EU) 2018/850 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste
  • Directive 99/31/EC on landfill of Waste
    Directive 99/31/EC on landfill of Waste
  • Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe COM(2011) 571
    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 we reducing landfilling of waste in Europe?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Fig. 1: Amounts and proportion of waste deposited in landfill by waste category

Major mineral wastes are excluded from the calculation of absolute amounts of landfilled waste and landfilling rates in this indicator. Major mineral wastes are, according to Eurostat and the European Waste Classification for Statistical Purposes (EWC-Stat, version 4), mineral construction and demolition waste (EWC-Stat 12.1), other mineral waste (EWC-Stat 12.2, 12.3 and 12.5), soils (EWC-Stat 12.6) and dredging spoils (EWC-Stat 12.7). The category ‘other waste’ in the graph includes chemical and medical wastes, recyclable wastes, equipment wastes, animal and vegetal wastes, mixed and undifferentiated materials, and common sludges. The geographical coverage is the EU-28, Iceland, Norway and Serbia. Countries have been excluded where no reporting took place for more than 1 year in the time series. Landfilling rates are calculated by dividing the amount of waste landfilled (D1, D5 and D12) by the amount of waste treated (so that imported waste is also covered).

Fig. 2: Municipal waste landfilling rates in Europe by country 

The municipal waste landfilling rates are calculated by dividing the amount of municipal waste landfilled by the amount of municipal waste treated for each respective year for each country individually. Data are published every year. The figure also includes a line showing the target landfilling rate — by 2035, the proportion of municipal waste landfilled should be reduced to 10 % or less of the total amount of municipal waste generated. It is important to note that the currently available data differ from the reporting rules related to the target, and therefore, the data shown in this indicator cannot be used to show compliance with the target.

Methodology for gap filling

On account of missing data for 2017, 2016 data were used for Iceland, Ireland and Montenegro. Instead of 2006 data, 2018 data were used for North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Data were not available for Montenegro or Albania for 2006. Data were not available for Kosovo (under UN Security Council Resolution 1244/99) for 2006 or 2017.

 

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

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

 

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

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

Ozlem Durmus

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
WST 006
Specification
Version id: 1

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 2 years

Classification

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

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