EU member states have improved their reporting of waste statistics, though cross-country comparisons remains challenging, the European Commission has said.
In a report (file right) to the Parliament and the Council published on 14 February, the EC noted that “significant progress has been achieved” since reporting began in 2006.
“Waste statistics have reached a fairly high degree of comparability across countries for most waste categories and sectors and considerable progress is being made towards full data coverage. Overall, the data are of appropriate quality for most countries,” it said.
In particular, most countries have increased data quality by closing gaps and improving coverage. Comparability of the statistics have improved following more countries using common definitions of waste included in the “European list of waste”.
However, the EC noted that there were still serious problems with comparability due to differences in data coverage and errors.
The biggest differences can be found in the reporting of waste from mining and quarrying activities and in the distinction between waste and by-product in some sectors such as agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing.
Wide gaps among the countries’ reporting of construction waste also indicated differences in data collection across countries, the EC noted.
In addition, most countries were not able to report on “backfilling”, a term that indicates the process of recycling materials so that they can be reused, excluding energy or fuel recovery.
To further improve data quality the EU statistical office Eurostat is setting up a series of meetings to support countries struggling with reporting.
Those countries were not named. However, the EC noted that four countries missed a June 2012 deadline for reporting 2010 data, with the UK submitting it last in November 2012.
Member states are required to report waste statistics within 18 months after the reference year.