European Waste Management Statistics: the comparison between Member States is questionable, because of non-comparable data

Paris, March 25th

FNADE, the French professional trade organisation representing the environmental services industry, today commented on the publication of statistics on waste management in Europe. FNADE made clear its view that the results of the different Member States cannot be compared objectively because of insufficient data harmonisation. Furthermore, only municipal waste is covered which accounts for less than 30% of non-hazardous waste treated in France.

Eurostat has just published the statistics for recovery and recycling of municipal waste. In FNADE’s view, these figures do not paint an accurate picture. Yet these statistics are of
utmost importance since they are the basis on which waste management policies are designed. They are used in particular for establishing quantified recycling and recovery
targets, and they influence the investments that are necessary to achieve the objectives. European statistics suggest that France has poor performances compared to other Member

A study commissioned by FNADE, carried out by BIPRO, a German consultancy firm, identifies the differences in the calculations made by MS on the different waste treatment options. These differences affect the recycling/recovery rates of each country.

For instance, France does not take into account sorted and exported waste. If this category was included, as it is in certain Member States, the French recycling rate would increase from 44.5% to 50.9% of total non-hazardous waste. If only household and similar waste is considered, the inclusion of sorted and exported waste would allow France to report a recycling rate above 40%.

One can also read that Germany does have recourse to landfills for the purposes of disposal of municipal waste. In 2010, France landfilled 24 Million tons of household and similar waste. The same year, Germany landfilled more than 30Mt of waste whereas in Eurostat statistics there is no municipal waste shown as landfilled for Germany. The German « zero landfilling » is therefore not a reality. It results from an approach based on showing that no municipal waste in Germany is landfilled without pre-treatment. This is also the case for the majority of French municipal waste collected through civic amenities, sorting centres and more than 20 different EPR schemes; nevertheless residues from treatment are declared as not pre-treated and landfilled.

The FNADE study clearly demonstrates differences of calculation concerning:
- The accounting method for exported and imported waste;
- The way input or output wastes in sorting centres are taken into account;
- The scope of municipal waste (notably green waste and waste from markets and street cleansing);
- The qualification of the treatment method in the case of multi-treatment sites which biases the landfilling rate;
- The inclusion or the exclusion of treatment residues from municipal waste which are;
depending upon the Member State, recorded as municipal waste or industrial waste (because pretreated by an industrial installation);
- The qualification of use of waste for backfilling, intermediate cover and road construction on landfill sites which are accounted as recycling or not, depending upon the Member State.

In order to avoid a situation in which France is penalised by waste policies based on noncomparable data, FNADE calls for:

- a unique method of calculation based on more precise definitions in EUROSTAT questionnaires,

- a European reporting system that in the future incorporates non-hazardous household waste and
waste from economic activities. FNADE recalls that statistics published by Eurostat cover only
municipal waste, i.e 30 % of non mineral, non hazardous waste produced in France.

European statistics are a navigational tool which enables the European Commission to ensure compliance by each Member State with the objectives lay down in the Waste Framework Directive. Therefore, it is essential that these statistics are based on common and mandatory rules.

Michel Valache, President of FNADE, recalls the importance of current work that will steer the French waste management policy for the coming years: « Through the waste management plan 2014-2020, the fiscal strategy on waste that was announced at the end of the French Committee on
Environmental Taxation, as well as with the coming revision of the objectives of the Waste Framework Directive, new ambitions and targets will be established. It is essential that these objectives take into account the differences in statistical methodology between Member States, as they will shape our sector indelibly ».

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