Society - Figures


In 2017, the population of the Netherlands produced 493 kg of household waste per inhabitant. This was still 569 kg ten years previously. Of the waste produced in 2017, 57 percent (281 kg) was separately collected waste; the other 43 percent (212 kg) was collected as unsorted waste. Part of the unsorted waste was still separated by machine. The share of unsorted waste was reduced from 51 to 43 percent between 2007 and 2017.

In 2017, nearly half of all industrial waste (14.7 billion kg) consisted of animal and vegetal waste from the food, beverages and tobacco industry. The bulk (95 percent) was re-used by way of recycling or incineration with energy recovery. Recycling rates for other materials included 100 percent for glass and paper waste, 98 percent for metal waste and 99 percent for the largest waste stream: animal and vegetable waste.

In 2018, the Dutch livestock herd produced 161 million kg of phosphate. This is 5 percent less than in 2017. The main reasons are herd reductions as well as a reduction of the phosphate content in forage and concentrated feed for dairy cattle. Of the phosphate produced by livestock, 55 percent originated from cattle, 23 percent from pigs, 17 percent from poultry and 5 percent from other farm animals.

Artboard 1Unit: million kg phosphorusFeed concentrates73615342Fixationby animalproductsManureremovalfromagricultureTo the soilFertilisersOtherFixation byplantproductsAgri-culturalareaForage422016LivestockPlantproducts41155753LivestockmanurePhosphorus balance in agriculture, 2017

In 2017, 96 percent of the total quantity of phosporus from agricultural sources (77.8 million kg) came from feed concentrates and inorganic fertilisers. Phosphorus output is created by animal products such as meat and milk, manure which is removed from agriculture and through crop uptake (cereals, fruit and vegetables). A phosphorus surplus is created when input exceeds output. The surplus amounted to 4 million kg in 2017. This was deposited into the soil.

In 2017, emissions of acidifying substances (nitrogen oxides, ammonia and sulphur dioxide) by Dutch sources were nearly 66 percent lower than in 1990. Emissions declined sharply between 1990 and 2000 in particular. Nitrogen oxides have shown a gradual decline as of 1990. Emissions of sulphur dioxide were stable between 2003 and 2007 and only declined afterwards. By 2017, Dutch greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases) were nearly 13 percent below the level in 1990.

In 2017, one-quarter of greenhouse gases were emitted by the energy companies. Manufacturing, traffic and transportation and agriculture contributed 19, 16 and 14 percent, respectively. Over half of Dutch emissions of acidifying substances originated from agriculture and nearly one-quarter came from traffic and transportation.

In 2017, companies in mining and quarrying, manufacturing and public energy and water supply made environmental investments to a total of 565 million euros. Of this amount, 79 percent was spent on measures that should lead to improved air quality and a cleaner energy supply. In 2017, environmental investments were 75 percent down on the previous year (2.15 billion euros). These investments may fluctuate sharply from year to year; in 2016, they had reached the highest level since 2007.

The surface water in the Netherlands is being contaminated as a result of discharges by industries, residual discharges from wastewater treatment plants, airborne pollutants and leaching as well as runoff in agricultural soils. Sewage treatment removes part of the contamination from the wastewater. Without sewage treatment, the surface water would have contained 51 percent more nitrogen and 64 percent more phosphorus in 2017. It would also contain more heavy metals: 51 percent more copper, 38 percent more lead and 35 percent more cadmium.

In 2016, agriculture and horticulture used slightly lower quantities of pesticides relative to 2012. Measured over sixty different crops, the surface area on which pesticides were applied declined more sharply in the period 2012–2016 than total consumption. This means annual pesticide consumption was higher in 2016 compared to 2012. Of the total quantity used (5.7 million kg of active substances in 2016), 88 percent was applied to only 11 different crops. These included a 40 percent share of three different potato crops (table potatoes, seed potatoes and starch potatoes).


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Opening page and header: © Hollandse Hoogte / Martijn Beekman

Society - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Patricia Rehe

Economy - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Marcel Krijgsman

Labour and income - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Sabine Joosten


Explanation of symbols

. Data not available
* Provisional figure
** Revised provisional figure
x Confidential
(between two whole numbers) up to and including
0 (0.0) The number is smaller than half of the selected unit
empty cell Not applicable
2018–2019 2018 to 2019 inclusive
2018/2019 Average for 2018 to 2019 inclusive
2018/’19 Crop year, financial year, school year, etc., beginning in 2018 and ending in 2019
2016/’17–2018/’19 Crop year, financial year, etc., 2016/’17 to 2018/’19 inclusive

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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