Municipal waste market in Europe

Municipal waste market in Europe

In Europe, Denmark was the largest producer of municipal waste in 2019, followed by Luxembourg and Norway. Poland closed the list, just behind Belgium, Hungary and Estonia. Poland was therefore in the leading position among all European countries, generating the least municipal waste.

Municipal waste management

Municipal waste accounts for about 10% of all waste. As the world’s population grows, so does the production of consumer goods. In addition, technological development affects the shorter service life of various types of products. Therefore, the growing amount of waste from year to year is becoming a serious problem not only in Europe, but also around the world.

According to the most recent Eurostat data, in 2019 Denmark turned out to be the largest producer of municipal waste in Europe. There was 844 kg of municipal waste per capita per year. The following places on the list were followed by Luxembourg (791 kg per capita) and Norway (776 kg per capita).

In the case of Poland, according to Statistics Poland, in 2019 there was an average of 332 kg of municipal waste per capita per year. In total, there were 12.8 million tons of municipal waste, which shows an increase, considering statistics from previous years.

Recycling of municipal waste

According to a report published by the European Parliament, around 46% of all municipal waste in Europe is recycled and composted. Landfills practically do not exist in North-West Europe (Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Finland), in these countries incineration and recycling play a major role. It is worth noting that Germany and Austria are among the countries that recycle the most waste. In eastern and southern Europe, including Malta, Cyprus and Greece, more than 80% of municipal waste is landfilled. In Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia, it is more than 60%, and in Spain and Portugal – at least half. Lithuania, Latvia, Ireland, Italy, France, Estonia, Slovenia, and Luxembourg use incineration and send no more than 1/3 of their waste to landfills. In Latvia and Estonia, more than 40% of household waste is recycled.

The municipal waste market in Europe – segmentation

The waste management market can be divided and analysed according to:

type of waste (apart from municipal waste, there are industrial and hazardous waste),

waste management services (i.e., debt collection and one-off) – the debt collection segment is divided into collection and transport, storage and reloading and sorting; the one-off services segment is divided into landfills, recycling, composting, anaerobic digestion, and others,


Companies operating on the municipal waste market in Europe

Veolia and Suez are the two largest waste management companies in Europe. In 2020, they recorded revenues of USD 31.24 billion USD (Veolia) and USD 21.16 billion (Suez). These concerns are also the two largest waste management companies in the world.

Other companies playing a large role in the waste management market in Europe are Biffa Plc, Renewi, FCC Environment (UK), Remondis Se & Co. Kg (Germany), and Urbaser (Spain).

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the municipal waste market

Both waste generation and collection of recyclables have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the suspension of economic activity, the demand for goods decreased. People spent most of their time at home performing their duties remotely. As a result of the change in lifestyle, the amount of waste generated in office, commercial and industrial premises has decreased. As a result of changes in the work and ways of spending free time, households were getting rid of more waste, which resulted in more municipal waste.

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Waste Statistics and Overall Recycling, The National Environment Agency,

Municipal waste by waste management operations, Eurostat,

Housing economy and municipal infrastructure in 2019, Statistics Poland,

Waste plan for Europe, Dr. Jolanta Cybulska, article published in the magazine „Ochrona Środowiska” no 3-4/2011,

Waste Management Market, Allied Market Research,

Waste management in the EU: Facts and Figures, European Parliament,

Revenue of selected major waste management companies in Europe, Statista,