Waste and Recycling

The overall quantity of waste is increasing rapidly on a worldwide scale. In the EU around 3.5 tonnes per capita of waste is produced annually, including more than 400kg per person per year of domestic waste. All the projections available today tend to show that this increase at worldwide level will continue at least until 2030 and in Europe no real decoupling between waste and economic growth is expected before 2020, even if this is already happening in some EU countries.

There are many negative impacts of waste. The spread of hazardous substances contained in discarded goods present significant risk for human health and the environment, while the production of throwaway goods are contributing massively to climate change.

Rather than being sent to landfill or incinerated, the circular economy ensures that organic waste such as food is composted, returning nutrients to the soil and thereby helping to naturally improve food production.

The EEB believes that waste prevention is priority, with recycling the answer when prevention is not possible. To make this approach most effective, waste prevention needs to be addressed at the design stage of products and all along the consumption chain – from purchasing to discarding.

Prevention and recycling could together save EU citizens billions of euros and contribute to fighting climate change, reducing our impacts on land and biodiversity and providing job opportunities.

Where do EU countries stand?

Ongoing negotiations in Brussels will determine the future of EU waste laws in the 28 member states, and reveal if the EU is ready to transition to a circular economy.

Follow the negotiations with us and find out whether your country is “a leader or a laggard.




560000 jobs

could be created by increasing recycling

less than 50 %

of waste is recycled in the EU