In 2020, the amount of municipal waste generated per person in the EU amounted to 505 kg, 4 kg per person more than in 2019 and 38 kg more than in 1995. In total, the EU generated 225.7 million tonnes of municipal waste in 2020, a 1 % increase compared to 2019 (+1.8 million tonnes) and +14 % compared to 1995 (+27.7 million tonnes).
Municipal waste generation varied considerably among the EU Member States. In 2020, Denmark and Luxembourg were the highest generators of municipal waste, with 845 kg and 790 kg per capita, respectively, followed by Malta (643 kg) and Germany (632 kg).
Romania (287 kg), Poland (346 kg) and Hungary (364 kg) led in terms of registering the fewest municipal waste generation per person this year.
Compared to 1995, only seven Member States generated less municipal waste per person in 2020: Bulgaria (-36 %), Hungary (-21 %), Slovenia (-18 %), Romania (-16 %), Spain (-10 %), Belgium (-9 %) and the Netherlands (-1 %).
The variations across countries reflect differences in consumption patterns and economic wealth and also differences in the collection and management of municipal waste. Countries differ regarding how much waste from commerce, trade and administration is collected and managed together with the waste from households.
67 million tonnes of municipal waste recycled in 2020
The amount of recycled waste remained stable in 2020. Recycling of materials fell to 67 million tonnes from 68 million tonnes in 2019, corresponding to 151 kg per person (same as in 2019). Compared to 1995, it means people in the EU recycled 44 million tonnes (97 kg per capita) more than in 1995.
Composting is also a recycling operation. 40 million tonnes (90 kg per person) of waste were composted in 2020, almost three times as much as in 1995 (14 million tonnes, or 33 kg per person).
In spite of the EU generating more waste, the total amount of municipal waste landfilled has diminished. In 2020, the total municipal waste landfilled fell from 121 million tonnes in 1995 to 52 million tonnes (-58 %). This corresponds to an average annualized decline of 4 %.
For more information:
- Eurostat Statistics Explained article on municipal waste
- Eurostat dedicated section on waste
- Eurostat database on waste