How much do we recycle?
Households and companies produce mountains of waste. Waste production per inhabitant was 2.5 thousand kg in 2016. This waste includes all waste materials such as food waste, packaging, iron, paper, plastics, glass, chemical waste and construction waste. Part of that waste is incinerated, for energy generation, part is recycled, part is landfilled and part is exported. There has been hardly any development in the reuse of materials in recent years. Landfilling has decreased in recent years while incineration is on the rise.
If materials are reused in the production of goods, there is no need to extract or import scarce raw materials. This reduces pressure on the environment. The aim of a ‘circular economy’ is to be more economical with raw materials, limit waste production and reuse waste.
|Year||Incineration||Landfill and other||Recycling and reuse|
Construction sector large waste processor
The construction industry is a major producer of waste. Nearly a quarter of all the materials generated by the construction sector consisted of waste. Waste made up around 10 percent of total output in the metal and food industries; in the agricultural sector, the figure is 8 percent.
Of all sectors, the construction sector also accounted for the largest share of recycled materials. Almost 38 percent of all the materials used in the construction sector were recycled materials. These were mainly mineral waste such as rubble, e.g. for road construction. On average, nearly 15 percent of the materials used in the production process in all sectors were recycled materials. The food industry uses many recycled resources, especially in the production of oils, fats and waxes as well as animal feed.
|Bedrijfstak||Use of recycled materials|
|Timber and paper||29|
|Mining and quarrying||0|
A waste mountain of 2.5 thousand kg per inhabitant is also very high for Europe, where the average in the 28 countries of the European Union is nearly 1.8 thousand kg per inhabitant.
The relatively high waste production is related to the fact that the Netherlands produces large quantities of goods for export, which causes waste generation in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands produces a lot of waste but is also one of the European countries where much waste is recycled. At 1.7 thousand kg of recycled waste per capita in 2016, the Netherlands ranks 3rd in the European Union (EU-28) after Luxembourg and Belgium.
The large amount of recycled waste per inhabitant shows how circular the Dutch economy is. Another indicator is the use of recycled materials in the production process. At 29 percent, the Netherlands’ use of recycled materials is the highest of the EU-28. The large-scale reuse of waste in the construction sector is an especially important contributor to this.
|Land||Share of recycling (% of total material use)|