Waste - State and impacts (Luxembourg)

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SOER Common environmental theme from Luxembourg - waste
Waste Waste
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 21 Mar 2015

Municipal waste: high generation but also high recovery rate

Under the impact of separate collection and recovery measures, there has been a continuous relative decoupling between municipal waste, residual waste for disposal and GDP these last 10 to 15 years. The volume of waste that must be dealt with has been growing less quickly than GDP, although at a rate very close to growth in private consumption, while both population and cross-border employment have been rising [Figure 1]. Waste generation per capita (at 700 kg) is among the highest in western Europe. This, however, includes waste generated by cross-border commuters and by (small) services businesses whose numbers have increased considerably since 1990.

Collection and recovery rates of municipal waste are among the best in Europe. With separate collection, some 46 % of total municipal waste can now be recycled. Recovery volumes are rising, reflecting the growing network of recycling centres and active public awareness about trash sorting. Municipal waste collection for recycling amounts to about 275 kg per capita every year, making Luxembourg's performance among the best in western Europe. Nevertheless, from a detailed analysis of the waste composition carried out in 2004-2005, it appears that the residual fraction going to incineration or treatment still contains a fair share of litter that could be recovered [Figure 2, Figure 3, Figure 4].

For some specific waste streams, available data show that about 16 kg per inhabitant per year of waste from electric and electronic equipments (WEEE) is collected [Figure 5]. Up to 50 %of old batteries and old accumulators are collected. More than 90 % of packaging waste is recycled, recovered or reused. Bio-organic waste from kitchens is also recovered but, with a collection-rate of 45 %, it remains insufficient.

Per inhabitant, there has been a decrease in municipal waste being incinerated or stored in landfill sites during the last decade [Figure 2]. Around 70 % of this waste is incinerated with energy recovery, while the remainder goes to landfills. The objective of reducing landfill-destined biodegradable waste to 35 % of the 1995 level by 2016 has already been achieved.

Figure 1 - Municipal waste generation and contextual variables: 1995-2009

Waste_Figure 1

a) population, GDP & PFC: STATEC, Statistical Yearbook, Table B.1100 and Table E.2101;
b) municipal waste data prepared by Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure - Department of the Environment & Environment Agency.
: municipal waste data does not include buildings and excavations waste. 2009 data are first estimates.

Figure 2 - Municipal waste treatment in kg per inhabitant: 1995-2009
Waste_Figure 2

Source: Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure - Department of the Environment & Environment Agency.
a) municipal waste data does not include buildings and excavations waste. 2009 data are first estimates;
b) inhabitants denominator = population connected to either landfill or incineration and total population for waste generated & recovered;
c) energy produced when waste are eliminated in the sole incinerator of the country is entirely recovered;
d) waste recovered consists of waste collected for recovery or recycling abroad and in Luxembourg - small fraction - and organic & garden waste collected for fermentation or composting.

Figure 3 - Separate municipal waste collection in recycling centres: 1995-2008
Waste_Figure 3


Source: Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure - Environment Agency. Published in STATEC, Statistical Yearbook, Table A.3306.
a) WEEE = Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. Data excludes fridges;
b) bulky & inert waste also includes old tyres & rubber;
c) hazardous waste are collected through the 'SuperDrecksKëscht fir Biirger' collection scheme.

Figure 4 - Fractions in municipal waste going to landfills or being incinerated: analyse for 2009-2010
Waste_Figure 4

Source: Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure - Environment Agency.

Figure 5 - Separate collection of selected fractions: 1995-2008

Waste_Figure 5

Source: Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure - Environment Agency. Quantities published in STATEC, Statistical Yearbook, Table A.3304.
Note: PMC stands for ‘plastiques, métaux, cartons’. Since 1998 a separate collection - in a blue bag - is organised to collect plastic bottles, metallic packaging (such as tinned food) and TetraPak: see Valorlux.


Industrial, commercial and service waste: significant volumes but declining

Industrial, commercial and service waste was estimated at 389 000 tonnes in 2007, of which 296 000 tonnes and 93 000 tonnes of waste, respectively, are generally exported to Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands for treatment. Indeed, Luxembourg does not have the whole range of recycling or recovery installations on its small territory. The same holds for separately collected municipal and specific waste streams collected through recycling centres or schemes, which are, therefore, mostly sent abroad for valorisation or other treatments.

Final industrial waste declined during the period under review, reflecting the combined impact of the closure of a mill and of the implementation of ‘Waste Prevention and Management Plans’ (Plan de Prévention et de Gestion des Déchets’, PPGDs) by businesses which have diverted many types of waste from disposal to recovery. In fact, companies are to appoint a ’waste management officer’ and prepare a PPGD that requires firms to evaluate their prevention and recycling potential and to institute ecological management of their waste. More than 3 000 firms have established such a plan since 1995.


Other waste streams are also subject to valorisation

There are about 13 000 tonnes of sewage sludge generated each year, most of which is used in agriculture (50 to 55 %) as fertiliser (sludge spreading) or composted (around 40 %). There are also 10.5 million tonnes of inert waste, consisting primarily of construction materials (76 % excavated earth), demolition waste and road maintenance waste that have to go to dedicated disposal sites where they are recovered, notably via grinding operations, or landfilled when recovery is not possible. The volume of inert waste generated, which is closely linked to construction activity, has risen in recent years.


Treatment and disposal of final waste

Municipal waste treatment, as well as separate collection and recycling centres, is under the responsibility of 116 municipalities, regrouped in the three main inter-communal syndicates operating two controlled landfills and one incineration plant, respectively, with energy recovery.

Regarding industrial, commercial and service waste, thanks to the PPGDs, remaining quantities to be eliminated are such that domestic facilities are less justified than in the past. Non-household waste for disposal is exported to specialised facilities in neighbouring countries, primarily in Germany. Due to the size of the country and its economy, total quantities exported may vary sharply from one year to the next.

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