More and more municipal waste is being recycled in the EU. The recycling rate has risen steadily albeit modestly each year since Eurostat started collecting data in 2000. Statistics recently published by the European statistical agency Eurostat reveal that the rate rose to 49.6 per cent in 2021, putting it 22 percentage points higher than at the start of the millennium. Over this period, the landfilling rate has continued to fall, while the share of total arisings sent for incineration has been stagnant at around 25 per cent for the past decade.
The recycling rate encompasses preparation for reuse, mechanical recycling, and composting and digestion of municipal waste. Incineration processes include both disposal (D10) and energy recovery (R1) operations; the proportion of waste treated in D10 installations has declined to minimal levels in recent years.
The Eurostat figures also showed that European municipal waste volumes recently hit a new record. Altogether, the 27 EU member states generated approximately 237 million tonnes of household waste and similar commercial waste in 2021, 3.6 million tonnes more than in 2020 and almost 10.5 million tonnes more than in 2019.
EU municipal waste arisings have soared since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the six years which preceded it, Eurostat had already registered steady growth in volumes....