28 Incredible Statistics About Waste Generation: Global, US, UK & European Union

By 2030 the world is expected to generate 2.59 billion tonnes of solid waste annually. By 2050, this amount is expected to rise further to 3.40 billion tonnes.

Globally, about 37% of waste is disposed of in some type of landfill, 33% is openly dumped, 19% undergoes materials recovery through recycling and composting, and 11% is treated through modern incineration. [1]

For more incredible statistics about waste generation, keep on reading!

We dive into some interesting statistics about waste for the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the Netherlands and Germany.

Which of the statistics surprised you the most?

28 Incredible Statistics About Waste Generation: Global, US, UK & European Union || StoneCycling

United States of America Waste Statistics [2]

  • It is estimated that 600 million U.S. short tons (about 544 million tonnes) of C&D debris were generated in the United States in 2018. This is more than twice the amount of generated municipal solid waste. 
  • In 2018, 76% of all C&D waste was recovered or recycled. 
  • Demolition represents more than 90% of total C&D debris generation, while construction represents less than 10%. 
  • Just over 455 million U.S. short tons (about 413 million tonnes) of C&D debris were directed to next use and just under 145 million U.S. short tons (about 132 million tonnes) were sent to landfills. 


Read our article about the Sustainable Development Goals for California.

United Kingdom Waste Statistics [3]

  • In 2018, the UK generated 67.8 million tonnes of non-hazardous C&D waste (excluding excavation waste).
  • Of the above amount, 62.6 million tonnes were recovered. This represents a recovery rate of 92.3%. The recovery rate from non-hazardous C&D waste has remained at similar levels from 2010 to 2018. 
  • Construction, demolition and excavation (CD&E; including dredging) generated around three fifths (62%) of total UK waste in 2018. Commercial and Industrial (C&I) waste accounted for almost a fifth (19%) of total waste generation and the remaining fifth was split between ‘Households’ (12%) and ‘Other’ activities (7%).
  • ‘Recycling and other recovery’ was the most common final waste treatment type in the UK, accounting for 108.4 million tonnes (50.4%) in 2018. 
  • Around two-thirds of ‘Recycling and other recovery’ is the recovery of mineral wastes (typically bricks, stone and road planings) and soils from the construction, demolition and excavation sector. 
  • Landfill is the second most used waste treatment in the UK, with 23.6% (50.8 million tonnes) of waste disposed of at landfills in 2018.


Read the Sustainable Development Goals for the United Kingdom.

28 Incredible Statistics About Waste Generation: Global, US, UK & European Union || StoneCycling
Global Statistics - Source: openknowledge.worldbank.org
28 Incredible Statistics About Waste Generation: Global, US, UK & European Union || StoneCycling
USA Statistics - Source: epa.gov
28 Incredible Statistics About Waste Generation: Global, US, UK & European Union || StoneCycling
UK Statistics - Source: gov.uk
28 Incredible Statistics About Waste Generation: Global, US, UK & European Union || StoneCycling
European Statistics - Source: ec.europa.eu

European Union Waste Statistics

  • Construction and demolition activities in the European Union (EU) are responsible for generating 850 million tonnes of C&D waste per year. [3]
  • The construction sector in the EU is the highest producer of waste when compared with other economic sectors, accounting for 35% of the total waste generation. [4]
  • C&D waste accounts for more than a third of all waste generated in the EU. [5]
  • About 40% to 60% of C&D waste in the EU is being landfilled or used for backfilling operations. [6]
  • The recovery rate of C&D waste in the EU is 88% from 2018 [7]


Read about the impact of the New Green Deal on European construction.

StoneCycling || Dok1620 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Pistachio WasteBasedBricks® at DOK1620 - the First Circular Neighbourhood in Amsterdam

The Netherlands Waste Statistics [8]

  • In 2018, 25.12 million tonnes of waste came from C&D activities. 
  • C&D waste in the Netherlands makes up around 41% of the total amount of waste (61.17 million tonnes) generated in the country. 
  • From all C&D waste, 24.48 tonnes (97%) got a ‘useful application’, which includes recycling, reuse, recovery, and other operations aimed at obtaining secondary raw materials. The remaining 25 thousand tonnes (0.10%) gets incinerated, 610 thousand tonnes (2.43%) dumped and 11 thousand  tonnes (0.04%) discharged. 


Read how Amsterdam will become the first circular city in the world.

Germany Waste Statistics

  • In 2018, there were 218.8 million tonnes of mineral construction waste generated in Germany [11], in 2019 this increased to 230.85 million tonnes. [9]
  • With a total of 416.54 million tonnes of waste generated in Germany in 2019, the C&D waste numbers for 2019 come to around 55.42%. [9]
  • Of the 2018 numbers, 130.3 million tonnes  (59.6%) were accounted for soil and stones, 59.8 million tonnes (27.3%) on rubble, 14.1 million tonnes (6.4%) from road rubble, 0.6 million tonnes (0.3%) on gypsum-based construction waste and 14 million tonnes  (6.4%) on construction site waste. [10] 
  • In 2018, 89.7% of the mineral construction waste incurred was recycled in Germany. [10] The recovery rate was 88% in 2019. [9]
  • Of the 14 million tonnes of construction waste in 2018, 0.3 million tonnes (1.8%) were recycled and 13.5 million tonnes (96.9%) were used for other purposes. Only 0.2 million tonnes (1.3%) were disposed of in landfills. [10] 
  • Of all C&D waste in 2019, 26.45 million tonnes (11.46%) ended up in landfill, 33 thousand tonnes (0.01%) was sent to incineration and 1.97 million tonnes (0.85%) was sent to treatment for disposal. [9]
  • In terms of recovery operations in 2019, 1.47 million tonnes (0.64%) went through energy recovery and 200.92 million tonnes (87.04%) were recycled. [9] 
28 Incredible Statistics About Waste Generation: Global, US, UK & European Union || StoneCycling
Facade Made of Truffle WasteBasedBricks® on 11th Avenue in New York City

Global Problems. Global Solutions?

As you can see from the above statistics, the challenge of waste management is a global problem, requiring global solutions. 

Where in the past the building industry lacked a collective voice on the world stage at major climate change conferences, in 2015, the “Global Alliance for Building and Construction” was founded. They have the mission to connect governments, the private sector and organisations to drive the transformation towards a zero-emission, efficient, and resilient buildings and construction sector.

The “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These targets will stimulate action in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet.

Furthermore, “The European Green Deal” was developed as a roadmap for making the EU economy sustainable and climate neutral. While Europe might only be responsible for just 9% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the deal can set a great example to the rest of the world. 

Environmental Assessment Methods such as BREEAM and LEED have the aim to reduce the impact of buildings on the environment through the early design and development stages, construction stage and the building’s life span.

Benefits of these tools include reducing the running and refurbishment costs of properties in the long-term, improving the safety and comfort of buildings, minimising construction waste and several other environmental, social and economic benefits.

But legislation and policies alone are not enough. The responsibility toward waste management of everyone involved in the built environment is just as important. From the client to the architect, and from the contractor to suppliers and workers, only by educating all stakeholders, we will increase awareness of the issues of waste and change will happen.

Make sure to share these stats and head over to our article “How to Design Out Waste” to read more about waste management and how good design can help to prevent waste early on in the design process. 

28 Incredible Statistics About Waste Generation: Global, US, UK & European Union || StoneCycling



[1] What a Waste 2.0 : A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050 – The World Bank, 2018 [read online

[2] www.epa.gov – 2012-2018

[3] UK Statistics on Waste – Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, 2021 [read online]

[4] A diagnosis of construction and demolition waste generation and recovery practice in the European Union – Paola Villoria Sáez & Mohamed Osmani, 2019 [read online]

[5] ec.europa.eu/environment

[6] Construction and Demolition Waste Handling in the EU – Prabir Ganguly, 2012 [read online]

[7] ec.europa.eu/eurostat – 2021-2018

[8] www.clo.nl – 1990-2018

[9] www.destatis.de

[10] kreislaufwirtschaft-bau.de