Waste recycling

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: CSI 052 , WST 005
Created 29 Feb 2016 Published 07 Dec 2016 Last modified 09 Jul 2019
9 min read
This indicator shows trends in recycling rates for several chosen waste types: municipal waste, packaging waste, waste excluding major mineral wastes and WEEE on an aggregated European level (EU-28 and other European countries, for which data were available). For municipal waste and packaging waste data are presented also at country level together with displayed related targets for packaging waste. Recycling rates of municipal and packaging waste refer to waste recycled as a share of the waste generated. Recycling rates of waste excluding major mineral wastes refer to waste recycled as a share of the waste treated. Recycling rate for WEEE refer to waste recycled as a share of the average quantity of electrical and electronic equipment put on the market in the previous three years. 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 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 Package, as well as the 2011 Roadmap on a Resource Efficient Europe (COM/2011/0571) 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.

This indicator shows and describes in detail trends in recycling rates for two waste types: municipal waste and packaging waste, both on an aggregated European level and at country level to support early warning mechanism. For better perception of the overall trend in waste recycling also recycling rates of waste excluding major mineral wastes and recycling of WEEE were supplemented (for both waste streams aggregated on European level). Due to the limited availability and quality of waste data, the indicator currently does not include other also important waste streams, such as bio-waste or batteries and accumulators.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

This indicator shows trends in recycling rates for several chosen waste types: municipal waste, packaging waste, waste excluding major mineral wastes and WEEE on an aggregated European level (EU-28 and other European countries, for which data were available). For municipal waste and packaging waste data are presented also at country level together with displayed related targets for packaging waste. Recycling rates of municipal and packaging waste refer to waste recycled as a share of the waste generated. Recycling rates of waste excluding major mineral wastes refer to waste recycled as a share of the waste treated. Recycling rate for WEEE refer to waste recycled as a share of the average quantity of electrical and electronic equipment put on the market in the previous three years. 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 prioritizes 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 prioritization 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 Action Plan for the Circular Economy. The Circular Economy package (2015) contains a vision and a list of concrete actions along the whole value chain to move towards a circular economy in Europe, including design and production, throughout consumption and to waste and secondary raw materials management. 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, municipal and biodegradable municipal waste.

 In 2018, Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) were amended by new Circular Economy Package. Directive (EU) 2018/852 amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste set new targets for the recycling of packaging waste, and Directive (EU) 2018/851 amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste set targets for the Member States for the preparing for re-use and recycling of at least municipal waste, 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

New targets were set in 2018 by new Circular Economy Package containing revised legislation.

 Article 11 of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) was amended by the Directive (EU) 2018/851 and 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 2025, set up separate collection for textiles.
  • 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 increased to a minimum of 50% by weight.
  • Increasing the level of preparation for the reuse and recycling of municipal waste by 2025 at 55%, by 2030 at 60 % and by 2035 at 65 %.
  • 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 20 of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) was also supplemented by the Directive (EU) 2018/851 and set the following target for Member States to be achieved:

  • By 2025, set up separate collection for hazardous waste fractions produced by households.

 Article 6 of the Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) was supplemented by the Directive (EU) 2018/852 in 2018 and includes the following targets:

  • No later than 31 December 2025 a minimum of 65 % and no later than 31 December 2030 a minimum of 70 % by weight of all packaging waste will be recycled.
  • No later than 31 December 2025, the following minimum recycling targets for materials

contained in packaging waste will be attained: (i) 50 % of plastic; (ii) 25 % of wood; (iii) 70 % of ferrous metals; (iv) 50 % of aluminium; (v) 70 % of glass; (vi) 75 % of paper and cardboard. No later than 31 December 2030 the following minimum recycling targets for materials contained in packaging waste will be attained: (i) 55 % of plastic; (ii) 30 % of wood; (iii) 80 % of ferrous metals; (iv) 60 % of aluminium; (v) 75 % of glass; (vi) 85 % of paper and cardboard.

Several Member States had varying derogation periods for these targets. Specifically, the derogation period for the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia has been set to 2012, and for Malta to 2013. Poland was 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.

 

A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy set target for plastics packaging:

  • By 2030, all plastics packaging placed on the EU market will be reusable or recyclable in a cost effective manner.

 

Annex V of the Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) sets minimal recycling and reuse targets for different categories WEEE.

Related policy documents

Key policy question

Are recycling rates increasing in Europe?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Figure 1 - Recycling rates in Europe by waste stream. The recycling rate for municipal and packaging waste is calculated by dividing the amount of waste recycled by the amount of waste generated for each year. Recycling of municipal waste includes material recycling and composting and anaerobic digestion. The recycling rate for waste excluding major mineral wastes is calculated by dividing the amount of waste recycled by the amount of waste treated. The recycling rate of WEEE is calculated by multiplying the 'collection rate' as set out in the WEEE Directive with the 'reuse and recycling rate' set out in the WEEE Directive; where: The 'collection rate' equals the volumes collected of WEEE in the reference year divided by the average quantity of EEE put on the market in the previous three years (both expressed in mass unit).  The 'reuse and recycling rate' is calculated by dividing the weight of WEEE that enters the recycling/preparing for re-use facility by the weight of all separately collected WEEE (both in mass unit) in accordance with Article 11(2) of the WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU, considering that the total amount of collected WEEE is sent to treatment/recycling facilities.

Figure 2 - Municipal waste recycling rates in Europe 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 - Packaging waste recycling rates in Europe 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 lines showing the recycling targets set in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and 2018 Circular Economy Package, which require a minimum recycling rate of 55 % packaging waste by 2008, 65 % by 2025 and 70% by 2030. Not all countries had the same deadline to attain the targets, acceding states to the European Union negotiated derogations for reaching 2008 target until not later than 2012 for Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia; 2013 for Malta; 2014 for Poland and 2015 for Latvia. 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

Several methods for gap filling were applied. Where data for the latest data year were missing for a country, this gap was filled with data from the latest available year. If EU-28 aggregates were missing it was calculated as a sum of country specific data of EU-28 countries. Average value of adjacent years was calculated for missing data if possible.  


Methodology references

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

Ozlem Durmus

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

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