Waste recycling

In 2017, 54% of municipal waste was recycled in Belgium. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must increase. This objective will be reached by continuing the trend since 2000. Recycling of municipal waste is therefore developing favourably.

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Waste recycling - Belgium and international comparison

percentage of municipal waste

//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2019), Municipal waste by waste operations [env_wasmun], https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 12/03/2019).

Definition: municipal waste is waste collected by municipal collection services, container parks, street sweepers, etc., but does not include construction materials. This waste can be treated in four ways: landfilling, incineration (with or without energy recovery), recycling and composting/fermentation. The indicator on waste recycling is calculated as the share of municipal waste in the latter two categories, recycling and composting/fermentation. This indicator must be put in parallel with the indicator on municipal waste collection. Statbel organises this data collection in Belgium and makes the results available, in particular to Eurostat. The data used here for the FPB calculations come from Eurostat, which publishes detailed and comparable results between EU Member States.

Goal: recycling of waste must increase.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 12.5: “By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.

International comparison: the rate of waste recycling in Belgium is above the European average and stabilises, while it still increases in the EU28. In 2017, only four countries perform better than Belgium (Germany, Slovenia, Austria and the Netherlands) but Belgium has lost two places in the ranking since 2014.

UN Indicator: the selected indicator is related to indicator 12.5.1 - National recycling rate, tons of material recycled.


  • SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals: United Nations (2015), Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, document A/RES/70/1.

  • Indicators: United Nations (2017), Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017, document A/RES/71/313.

  • UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/ (consulted on 26/04/2019).

  • Sustainable Development Goal indicators website: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/ (consulted on 26/04/2019).

More information is available in FR (French) and NL (Dutch).