Waste shipment statistics
From Statistics Explained
- Data from 12 December 2012, most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article discusses statistics on transboundary waste shipments in the European Union (EU). When transboundary waste shipments are mentioned in the press, this very often concerns illegal shipments: the waste – often hazardous – has been sent to another EU country or to a developing country in order avoid the costs of appropriate treatment. However, a lot of shipments of hazardous waste are performed legally, i.e. where the waste has been notified to the authorities in advance. This article gives an overview of these notified waste shipments.
In the EU, the transboundary shipments of waste are regulated by Regulation 1013/2006 on shipments of waste, commonly referred to as the Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR). It implements the Basel Convention banning exports of hazardous waste from OECD countries to non-OECD countries, as these countries do not have proper and sufficient waste treatment capacity. According to the WSR all hazardous waste, but also some problematic waste streams and other wastes defined by the WSR, has to be notified to the authorities before it is allowed to be shipped across borders.
Main statistical findings
The main findings based on the amounts of shipped waste out of the Member States are stated below. Please note that in this article the terms 'export' and 'import' are used for transboundary shipments of waste regardless of whether or not it concerns a shipment within or outside the European Union.
Shipments of hazardous waste - total amount and per capita
The amount of hazardous waste shipments from EU Member States to other EU Member States or out of the EU has doubled from 3 164 000 tonnes in 2001 to 6 338 000 tonnes in 2010 though with a peak in 2007 of 8 052 000 tonnes which have declined since. See Table 1.
Almost all countries have increased their shipments from 2001 to 2010, but France and Italy, especially, have seen a large increase. In 2010 both countries dispatched about 1.5 million tonnes of hazardous waste. The Netherlands has had a very large decrease of dispatched hazardous waste from 2009 to 2010. However this decrease is partly to be explained by that some notified Dutch waste was earlier reported as hazardous although the waste in fact is ‘non-hazardous’.
Expressed in kg per capita, Luxembourg is at the top of the table with an export of about 177 kg in 2010 followed by Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland. All of the 12 Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 (EU-N12)  apart from Slovenia, Malta and Latvia, have a very low export of less than 8 kg per capita. Among the EU-15 Member States, Germany, Greece, Spain and the United Kingdom all have low exports from 1 to 4 kg per capita. See Table 4.
Map 1 shows the shipments of the largest amounts of hazardous waste out of each EU Member State, expressed in kg per capita, and to which countries the hazardous waste is shipped. Whereas Map 2 shows some of the smaller scale shipments. Almost all Member States ship hazardous waste to Germany, and this is reflected by the large number of arrows into Germany on the Maps. Other centres for receiving waste from many countries are Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
Treatment of exported hazardous waste
Looking at the treatment of the shipped hazardous waste, the percentage of hazardous waste for disposal has increased from 20 % (600 000 tonnes) in 2001 to 27 % (1.7 million tonnes) in 2010. Whereas the part for recovery has declined from 77 % (2.4 million tonnes) to 73 % (4.6 million tonnes) over the same period (cf. Figure 1). These changes have been most pronounced since 2005, and mainly reflect the development in the EU-15 Member States. Developments in the 12 Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 (EU-N12) have resulted in a greater fluctuation; however, since 2005 the amounts going for disposal appear to be decreasing.
The precise treatment the hazardous waste undergoes must be reported by Member States. Incineration with and without energy recovery (code R1 and D10 respectively according to the EU Waste Framework Directive) dominates with a total amount of 1.4 million tonnes in 2010 or about 23 % of the exported waste (cf. Figure 2). This is a large reduction compared with 2009 where 2.6 million tonnes of hazardous waste were exported for incineration. The reason for this reduction seems to be as mentioned before the change in the classification of Dutch waste which resulted in an increase in the amount of non-hazardous waste shipped for incineration from 1 million tonnes in 2009 to 2.4 million tonnes in 2010. In 2010 about 800 000 tonnes of hazardous waste were incinerated with energy recovery and 600 000 tonnes without energy recovery. The total amount exported for incineration has augmented from 600 000 tonnes in 2001 to the present level, which is an increase of over 100 %.
Other types of treatment with large increases are R3 (recycling/reclamation of organic substances which are not used as solvents), R4 (recycling and reclamation of metals) and R5 (recycling/reclamation of inorganic materials). The export of hazardous waste for R3 increased from 200 000 tonnes in 2001 to 800 000 tonnes in 2008 but is has then decreased to 400 000 tonnes in 2010. In the same period R4 increased from 800 000 tonnes to 1.4 million, and R5 increased from 400 000 to 1.2 million tonnes in 2007 and then decreased to 600 000 tonnes in 2010. Among the disposal activities large increases occurred for landfilling (D1) and physio-chemical treatment (D9, e.g. evaporation, drying, calcination, neutralisation, precipitation, etc.). D1 increased from 2001 to 2008 from 100 000 to 800 000 tonnes and it has then decreased to 500 000 tonnes in 2010. D9 increased from 2001 to 2008 from 100 000 to 200 000 tonnes but it has then decreased to 100 000 tonnes in 2010.
Shipments of hazardous waste within and out of the EU
Over 94 % of the hazardous waste exports in the EU-27 were shipped to other EU Member States in 2010. The bulk (90 %) was sent from EU-15 Member States to other EU-15 Member States (cf. Table 2). The amount sent from EU-15 Member States to the 12 Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 (EU-N12) has increased from 5 000 tonnes in 2001 to 16 000 tonnes in 2004, 58 000 tonnes in 2007, 126 000 tonnes in 2009 and 161 000 tonnes in 2010. There appears to be a rapid increase of the shipments from EU-15 to the 12 Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 (EU-N12), although still low in absolute terms. From EU-15 Member States to EFTA countries there has also been a large increase from 189 000 tonnes in 2009 to 343 000 tonnes in 2010.
There is a small amount of hazardous waste exported to non-OECD countries. It is based on the reporting from Member States, which have used the classification "national classified hazardous waste" for all the waste which could not be classified by using one of the Basel Convention’s Y-codes (Y1 toY47). However, hazardous waste (as defined by the European Waste List) has in these cases not been transported out of the EU to non-OECD countries. This illustrates a classification problem encountered by many Member States. Within the EU, waste is predominately classified according to the European Waste List and as there is no unique relation between the European Waste List-codes and the Basel-codes. Member States have to find solutions for waste that cannot be classified by one of the Y-codes in the Basel report.
Taking the information on the treatment of exported hazardous waste into account and the fact that hazardous waste is primarily shipped to other EU countries, the reporting on hazardous waste indicates:
- There have been limited shipments of hazardous waste between the 12 Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 (EU-N12) and the EU-15 Member States, but the amounts have increased in recent years;
- The period from 2001 to 2007 is characterised by growing shipments of hazardous waste both for disposal and recovery. Since the financial and economic crisis started in 2008 there has been a 20 % decrease. The total development from 2001 to 2010 is a sign that the EU is increasingly acting as a single market;
- Incineration with and without energy recovery is the dominating treatment form of shipped hazardous waste, but different types of recycling have also increased as well as landfilling.
Export of all notified waste, in tonnes and kg per capita
When looking at the export of not only hazardous waste but of all notified waste, there is a large increase in the EU from 6.3 million tonnes in 2001 to 12.2 million tonnes in 2010 (cf. Table 3). In addition to hazardous waste, all notified waste includes mixed household waste, residues from the incineration of household wastes and certain other waste types, which according to the WSR has to be notified before shipment. The amount of all notified waste has grown quite steadily since 2005 and has also increased after the crisis started. The largest exporters are the Netherlands followed by Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, United Kingdom and Sweden. Austria had a very large increase from 2008 to 2009 mainly due to excavated soil from an infrastructure project in the province of Vorarlberg. Again, the EU-15 Member States dominate the export, whereas the 12 Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 (EU-N12) only have a share of about 300 000 tonnes or 2.5 % in 2010.
If the total export of notified waste is stated in kg per capita, Luxembourg leads with about 280 kg; however, Austria and the Netherlands also have high amounts with over 100 kg in 2010 followed by Belgium, Ireland, Cyprus, Slovenia, and Sweden with 50 to 83 kg. The EU average was 22 kg in 2007, increased to 23 kg in 2008 and 24 kg in 2009 and 2010. Apart from Cyprus and Slovenia, all other of the the 12 Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 (EU-N12) have had values lower than 8 kg per capita.
1.2 million tonnes of notified waste was from mixed household waste and residues from the incineration of household wastes (Y -46 and Y -47 according to the Basel Classification). Italy in particular exported large amounts and has seen a large increase from 2006 to 2008. Other countries with large exports of these waste types are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany.
Incineration with and without energy recovery is the dominant treatment of the total notified waste. 4.2 million tonnes or 34 % of the total notified waste were shipped for incineration, 2.7 million tonnes with energy recovery and 1.5 million tonnes without energy recovery.
In the EU, the regulatory framework for transboundary shipments of waste is Regulation 1013/2006 on shipments of waste, commonly referred to as the Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR). The Regulation implements the Basel Convention and its ban on exporting hazardous waste from OECD countries to non-OECD countries, since these countries do not have proper and sufficient waste treatment capacity. The Regulation also implements the OECD-Council Decision on the control of transboundary shipments of waste. The OECD countries have developed a system for the notification of waste destined for recovery in the OECD countries. The WSR also sets some additional requirements for transboundary shipments within and out of the EU.
According to the WSR all hazardous waste, but also some problematic waste streams and other wastes defined by the WSR, has to be notified to the authorities before it is allowed to be shipped (transboundary). Member States are required to submit to the Commission before the end of each calendar year a report for the previous year on the amounts of notified transboundary shipped waste and the amount of hazardous waste generated. The submitted data regarding transboundary shipments of waste covers both waste shipped out of and into the Member States, and the latest data covers 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. By August 2012, all of the Member States have reported data for 2010.
Further Eurostat information
- Environmental statistics and accounts in Europe – statistical book 2010
Source data for tables, figures and maps on this page (MS Excel)
- European Commission - DG Environment - Commission report of 7 August 2012 on the implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 259/93 of 1 February 1993 on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the European Community, and on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 of 14 June 2006 on shipments of waste - Generation, treatment and transboundary shipment of hazardous waste and other waste in the Member States of the European Union (2007-2009) COM(2012) 448 Final - not published in the Official Journal. Annex to this report: Part 1 pdf ~ 1,1M) and Part 2 (pdf ~ 1M) (Commission staff working document SWD(2012) 244 final of 7 August 2012)
- European Commission - DG Environment - Commission report of 24 June 2009 (COM(2009) 282 final) on the implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 259/93 of 1 February 1993 on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the European Community
- European Environment Agency
- Movements of waste across the EU`s internal and external borders (EEA Report 7/2012)
- State of the environment report 5/10
- Waste and material resources
- Waste without borders in the EU? (EEA Report 1/2009)
- European Topic Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (ETC/SCP)
- Transboundary shipments of waste in the European Union. Reflections on data, environmental impacts and drivers (Working Paper 2/2012)
- Transboundary Shipment of Waste (Data Report)
- Transboundary shipments of waste in the EU (Technical Report 2008/1)
- Municipal waste statistics
- Greenhouse gas emissions from waste disposal
- Packaging waste statistics
- Recycling – secondary material price indicator
- Recycling statistics - NACE Rev. 1.1
- Waste statistics
- ↑ Cyprus (CY), Czech Republic (CZ), Estonia (EE), Hungary (HU), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Malta (MT), Poland (PL), Slovakia (SK), Slovenia (SI), Bulgaria (BG), Romania (RO)
- ↑ The treatment of waste is broken down by recovery and disposal operations listed in Annex I and II to the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC.