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Eurostat Municipal Waste Statistics: Half a Ton of Municipal Waste per Citizen of the EU

Municipal waste statistics by Eurostat present tendencies in municipal waste generation and treatment in the European Union (EU) from 1995 to 2020. In general, the published data record a clear downward trend in the volume of waste landfilling, which is explained by the move of countries to alternative methods of waste processing.

In 2020, in the EU 505 kg of municipal waste per capita were generated. For a better understanding and comparison of changes over 15 years, Figure 1 shows the generation indicators for 2005 and 2020. The overall figure for the whole EU is virtually unchanged from 2005.

If we look at the situation in individual countries, we can see that 16 of the 27 EU members have seen an increase in municipal waste generation per capita over the time period under consideration. In the figure above, the countries are arranged in order of increasing levels of waste generation in 2020. With 834 kilograms per capita, Austria is well above average. Also among the frontrunners are Denmark with 814 kilograms, Luxembourg (790 kg) and Belgium (746 kg). The smallest quantities of municipal waste in the EU had Romania with 287 kilograms, Poland (346 kg) and Estonia (383 kg).

According to the statistics, municipal waste treatment has changed significantly in recent years. For example, the amount of waste recycled rose from 23 million tonnes in 1995 to 67 million tonnes in 2020. The amount of incinerated waste grew from 30 million tonnes to 61 million tonnes in the same period. In contrast, less than half as much waste was disposed of in landfills: around 52 million tonnes in 2020 in comparison to 121 million tonnes in 1995. Thus, the landfilling rate in the EU fell from 61% in 1995 to 23 % in 2020. The figure below presents the changes in municipal waste treatment in the EU per capita.