Bio-waste generation in the EU: Current capture levels and future potential

July 2020

The report includes country-specific factsheets (see links below) that provide calculations for the EU-27, the United Kingdom and Norway, and other specific information that is relevant to bio-waste management strategies and perspectives in a specific country.

The first chapter briefly outlines the EU policy drivers for the management of bio-waste, one of which will be the new Waste Framework Directive (WFD), which mandates bio-waste collection from 1 January 2024 onwards. Other drivers from environmental policies are also mentioned.

In the second chapter, the methodology of the report is outlined. The report builds on public information and national data from the 27 Member States + UK and Norway for bio-waste generation, making a number of assumptions on how to calculate the current capture of bio-waste in the EU27+ and the theoretical potential.

The third chapter presents the results. In the EU27+, current capture of food waste is 9,520,091 tonnes per year, just 16% of the theoretical potential, estimated at 59,938,718 tonnes. It must be noted that the latter number is indeed only theoretical. Every type of collection aims at maximising capture but will never reach 100%. With that in mind, the report defines a target capture level, the ‘operational potential’, of around 85% of the theoretical potential, so as to calculate how much food waste, currently left in mixed waste, may actually be still recovered.

The fourth chapter provides some best practices in bio-waste management. This includes the case of Milan; an outstanding example of how residential food waste collection has been implemented. Catalonia’s landfill tax is also described, where economic instruments aim to promote the collection of bio-waste. Another best practice is in France, where some municipalities were pioneers in promoting the separate collection of bio-waste. BBI JU funded projects are also included as examples of best practices for sustainably valorising bio-waste to provide new bio-based compounds for the chemicals, food-packaging and agricultural sectors.