Are recycling rates increasing in Europe?

Policy Question
Indicator codes: CSI 052 , WST 005

Key messages

Recycling rates of municipal waste, packaging waste and waste electrical and electronic equipment — which represent significant sources of secondary materials and critical raw materials — are increasing in Europe, indicating a move towards using waste as a resource and a more circular economy.

•Recycling rates for both municipal waste and packaging waste have increased substantially: by 16 percentage points between 2004 and 2017 for municipal waste and by 13 percentage points between 2005 and 2016 for packaging waste. In 2017, 46 % of the municipal waste generated in the EU-28 and Iceland, Norway and Switzerland was recycled; in 2016, 67 % of packaging waste generated in the EU-28 and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway was recycled.

• Municipal waste recycling rates differ widely between European countries, ranging from 68 % in Germany to 0.3 % in Serbia in 2017.  In 2017, three countries recycled already 55 % or more of their municipal waste.  In 2017, 28 countries recycled 55 % or more of their packaging waste and 15 countries recycled 65 % or more of their packaging waste.

• These improvements have been partly driven by EU targets introduced in 1994 and 2008 and later by the circular economy packages (2015).

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