Half of EU member states still send more than 40% of municipal waste to landfill, showing potential for further EfW capacity, according to Eurostat
The EU’s statistical body Eurostat has reported a drop in waste sent to landfill, despite member states not managing to reduce the overall volumes produced per person.
In a report, just issued, the statistical body found that on average 486kg of municipal waste was produced per person in the EU in 2017 (2017 figures for Ireland were not included in the study).
Since 1995, landfilled municipal waste has decreased by 60%, reaching 58 million tonnes in total in 2017 (113kg per capita). This corresponds to an average annual decline of 4.1%. Eurostat attributes to EU legislation such as Directive 62/1994 on packaging and packaging waste and Directive 31/1999 the amount of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfills.
As a result, the landfilling rate (landfilled waste as share of generated waste) compared with municipal waste generation in the EU-28 dropped from 64% in 1995 to 23% in 2017.
Recycling and composting up nearly 200%
Recycling increased by 195% over the same time period, and composting by 196%, reaching 116 million tonnes in total in 2017 (215kg per capita). Overall, 46% of municipal waste in the EU was recycled that year.
The data shows waste incineration has grown by 118%, from 67kg per capita in 1995 to 137kg in 2017, however the report only covers the “total amount incinerated” and does not record differences between waste sent for energy recovery or processed without any heat or power being produced.
But the European Suppliers of Waste-to-Energy Technology, an industry group, said that “waste-to-energy is a sensible alternative to recover the residual waste that can’t be reused or recycled”. It added: “Half of the member states still send more than 40% of their municipal waste to landfills.”
According to the Waste Framework Directive and the Landfill Directive, 65% of municipal waste has to be recycled and a maximum of 10% sent to landfill by 2035. While recycling and energy recovery are ways to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, there have been calls to tackle the waste problem at the source by preventing waste in the first place.
The figures showed Danes, Cypriots and Germans produced the most waste per head, at 781kg, 637kg and 633kg respectively.
Eastern and central European countries, by contrast, produced the least, with the Czech Republic producing 344kg per person, Poland 315kg and Romania just 272kg.