Where does our waste end up? The 4 destinations.

  •   July 28th, 2014
  •   Category: News
  •   Posted by: Ecodyger

The production of hazardous and non-hazardous in the EU has achieved in recent years the appalling mass of 252 million tons. About 36% of municipal waste managed in the 27 European Member States is disposed of in landfills, about 23% is initiated for incineration, while about 26% is initiated into recycling and 15% is composted.

The waste sorting started at various facilities that recover different materials, such as plastic, paper, wood, glass, metals, wet, while the mixed waste are sent to termovalorizators.


It is interesting to see the extreme variability in the approach to solid waste management between the different European Member States.

1. Landfills

What is a landfill? Waste landfills, as part of the cycle of waste management, are places where municipal solid waste is deposited and stored in a non-selected and permanent way together with other waste arising from human activities which was not possible to recycle.

The attached table above shows the data related to the amount of municipal waste disposed of in landfills in the Member States in the period 2009-2011. It goes from percentages of less than 1% in Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden to 99% in Romania. In addition to Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, the other three countries (Belgium, Austria and Denmark) are placed on percentages lower than 5%, while, at the other extreme, three countries (Cyprus, Greece and Latvia) disposed in a landfill percentage of municipal waste still impressive, between 80 and 88%, and three others (Malta, Bulgaria and Romania) reach percentages of landfill varying between 92 and 99%. Greece aside, it is immediately notable that the countries in which the use of landfills affects over 80% of municipal waste managed are all of recent EU join.

Looking at it from the point of view of waste per capita, we see that 176 kg are still being sent to landfill even though the European Union has already enacted very strict guidelines in 1999 to reduce the use of landfills (1999/31/EC) and progressively closing sites by 2020 with respect to all municipal solid waste.

The last three years, the gradual implementation of policies and legislation aimed at reducing waste to landfill, in particular biodegradable waste, has given positive outcomes. However it is still a long way to go, and waste should be drastically reduced in quantity at the source, through the use of new technologies, such as Ecodyger.

2. Incinerators

What is an incinerator? Incinerators are plants mainly used for the disposal of waste by a process of high-temperature combustion gas that gives the final products, ashes and dusts. In the most modern plants, the heat developed during the combustion of the waste is recovered and used to produce steam, which is used for the production of electricity or as a heat, used for district heating.


An incinerator in Chicago Illinois (Ph Cragin Spring)

In 2011 in the European Union 56.5 million tons of municipal waste was sent for incineration. Of these, 97.7% is incinerated in the 15 founding states of the EU. Compared to 2010, there was an increase in the volume of 2.1%. It is worth pointing out that the voice “incineration” also includes the amount of municipal waste sent for recovery of energy, which is used to produce energy in the form of Refuse Derived Fuel, RDF.

As well as for the disposal in landfills, the data concerning the incineration showed a very heterogeneous situation between the EU Member States: about 30 million tons (53.1% of total EU-27) are burned in the sun Germany and France, while 6 Member States (Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Cyprus, Latvia and Romania) do not use at all in this treatment option.

The average quantity of waste incinerated per capita in the EU countries is 27 to 113 kg / inhabitant per year. Incineration is particularly widespread in northen Europe, particularly Denmark (387 kg / inhabitant per year), Luxembourg (264), Sweden (237), Germany (220), the Netherlands and Belgium (193), France (184) and Austria (183). If we consider the two regional groupings of EU 15 and new Member States, we have a opposite situation to that reported with reference to the landfill.

3. Composting

What is composting? Composting is an aerobic biological process and controlled by man that leads to the production of a mixture of substances (compost) made from a mixture of organic materials such as pruning waste, kitchen waste, manure, slurry or gardening waste such as leaves and grass mowed. All this is possible thanks to the combined action of macro-and micro-organisms in particular conditions: the presence of oxygen and balance between the chemical elements involved in the transformation of matter.

Compost and all of its many uses will be discussed extensively in one of our next articles.

In 2011, in the EU, approximately 36.9 million tons of MSW were sent for composting, of which 93.9% (approximately 34.7 million tons) is started in this form of management only in the 15 EU countries. Compared to 2010, there was an increase in EU-27 by 3.7% (from about 35.6 to about 36.9 million tons), the result of an increase of 0.8% in the old Members (from about 34 3 to about 34.7 million tons) and 85, 3% in countries which have recently joined (from approximately 1.2 to approximately 2.2 million tons).

If we consider the data per capita in the EU 27, 73 kg/inhabitant of waste per year are sent for composting, an increase of 2 kg / inhabitant compared to 2010. During the same period in the EU-15 the figure rose from 86 to 87 kg / inhabitant per year, while in the new Member States it was recorded an increase of 83, 3%, from 12 to 22 kg / inhabitant per year. Despite the quantity of waste sent to composting in the new member countries the figures are low compared to those in the EU 15.

Ecodyger allows to treat organic waste in such a way that the residue can usually be used as compost, as well as in many other ways. In addition Ecodyger has an important advantage: it allows that the whole process of treatment of organic waste is carried out where it is produced. Ecodyger allows the almost total elimination of cost and pollution related to the transport of organic waste.

4. Recycling

What is recycling? Waste recycling is the set of methods and strategies to recover useful materials from waste in order to reuse them rather than dispose them in landfills and incinerators. Recycling prevents the waste of potentially useful materials ensuring greater sustainability to the cycle of production / utilization of materials, reduces the consumption of raw materials, energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions.

cestino riciclato

Bin made from recycled paper (Ph Flickr)

Recycling in the EU affects about 27 to 62.3 million tons of municipal waste of which 94.9% are sent for recycling only in the founding countries of the EU 15. The table below shows the quantities recycled in the period 2009-2011. Compared to 2010, at the EU level there is an increase in the quantity handled by 1, 9% (from about 61.2 to about 62.3 million tonnes), even if the Community’s objectives are more ambitious. We like to emphasize that considerable increases, always at the level of EU-15, it is recorded in Italy (+16.8%) and Finland (19.6%).

If you consider the number per capita in the EU 27 is initiated recycling 124 kg / inhabitant per year of Refusal Urban RU, an increase of 2 kg / capita (+1.6%) compared to 2010. Again, it is important to note a large disparity between the EU 15, where the data is more above the European average and went from 145 to 148 kg / inhabitant per year, while in the new Member States, there is even a reduction of 2 kg / inhabitant per year (from 33 to 31 kg / inhabitant per year).

Using the solid residue of Ecodyger as compost, or in many other ways it can be used, we are operating a recycling at the source of the organic waste that would otherwise become waste and end up in the waste cycle.

What is the best way to recycle waste?

Waste sorting is certainly the best tool to recycle waste, a way to reduce the impact we have on the environment and which should help to leave the world cleaner for the future generations.

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Team Ecodyger