Photo description: Elderly lady recycling clothes by donating them to the Salvation Army.


In the Netherlands, waste production per inhabitant is slightly below the EU average. This is related to its trading and service-based economy, which produces relatively low volumes of waste compared to industrial economies. How is all of this waste processed? How much waste is landfilled or incinerated and how much is recycled? How is this organised in other countries?

Meetlat-7-afval_ENG FI EE L U BG SE RO A T GR * BE DE FR EU PL M T NL UK DK IE * C Y ES I T SL CZ L T SK HU P T L V HR 4.8 tonnes 4.3 tonnes C o l l e c t ed w a s t e per i n h a b i t a n t , 2016 (*2014)

Waste is still processed in many different ways across Europe. This also applies to household waste. Common methods in Western European countries including the Netherlands involve recycling and composting of waste as well as combustion for power generation. In Southern and Eastern Europe, on the other hand, at least half of all municipal waste is disposed of in landfills. Only a small percentage is incinerated or processed differently.

Processing of household waste varies widely between EU countries. In the Nordic countries as well as in the Netherlands, only small volumes of household waste are landfilled or incinerated. In Cyprus and Malta, this applies to the bulk of household waste – some 500 kg per inhabitant. Only a few percent of the waste is recycled.

Recovery of scarce materials

In recent years, more focus has been put on the recovery of raw materials from discarded electrical and electronic devices (e-waste). One reason is that these products contain valuable, scarce and precious raw materials such as gold. Another reason would be to become less dependent on countries like China, which are dominating this part of the raw materials market.

428 kg of waste recycled or composted per inhabitant in Germany
38 kg is the amount per inhabitant in Romania and Malta

Sweden leading in e-waste collection

As of 2012, a European directive has been implemented to promote the reuse, separate collection and recycling of e-waste. Within the European Union, Sweden is a front runner in terms of collecting waste equipment. The Netherlands ranks in the middle: 24 kg of electrical and electronic equipment is disposed of per inhabitant, of which around 9 kg (39 percent) is collected and recycled. At the same time, Dutch households have purchased new or other appliances. The amount of equipment (including solar panels) put on the Dutch market in 2016 stood at approximately 22 kg per inhabitant.


Eurostat – Household waste

Eurostat – E-waste


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Explanation of symbols

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* Provisional figure
** Revised provisional figure
2018-2019 2018 to 2019 inclusive
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2018/’19 Crop year, financial year, school year, etc., beginning in 2018 and ending in 2019
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Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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