Associations & Federations EU Food Waste Reports & Studies

Innovative Solutions for Food Waste in EU

A report identifying the untapped potential to valorise bio-waste in the EU will be published in July. We were able to obtain the data for Germany, France and UK. Here it is, exclusively for the readers of

The Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC), Europe’s leading industry association putting circularity, innovation and sustainability at the heart of the European bioeconomy, has teamed up with Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) to produce a first-of-its-kind report identifying the untapped potential to valorise bio-waste (garden and food waste) in Europe.

The report details the current generation and capture rates of bio-waste for each EU27 Member State, plus Norway and the United Kingdom.

For food waste, the current capture is only 9,520,091 tonnes per year, just 16% of the theoretical potential, estimated at 59,938,718 tonnes (see graph below).

The report and country factsheets provide examples of how the bio-based industries contribute to tackling this waste challenge as well as citing best practices in waste management at municipal level.

Bio-waste can serve as a valuable feedstock for the bio-based industries and the sector is well-placed to convert bio-waste into high-value bio-based products.

This innovation can alleviate Europe’s food waste challenge and stimulate new opportunities for sustainable growth, contributing to Europe’s green recovery.

“The bio-based sector is already valorising bio-waste in smart and efficient processes with zero-waste objectives. Several projects funded by the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) demonstrate how innovation in our sector can convert bio-waste into high-value bio-based products.” says Dirk Carrez, BIC Executive Director. “The bio-based industries seek to achieve a resource-efficient and zero-waste society as identified in our Vision. The planned EU public-private partnership – Circular bio-based Europe – will help further realise this” he added.

“The report shows that biowaste management remains an untapped potential for the European Union to further transition to a Circular Economy. Only 16% of the potential is currently captured and, through proper initiatives, this number could be multiplied by 5 so as to reach 85%. This shows the need for the EU and Members States to maintain and strengthen their effort in biowaste collection and treatment as key steps towards soil regeneration, circularity and climate neutrality” added Pierre Condamine, Waste Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe.


  • total population (million): 83.02
  • % cities: 36.3% %
  • towns and suburbs: 40.7%
  • % rural: 23.0%
  • received early warning report: no

food waste

  • potential generation (kg/capita): 94.4
  • potential generation (t): 7,834,000
  • potential maximum capture with optimised collection schemes (t): 6,658,900
  • current capture (t): 2,077,200
  • current capture (% on potential generation): 27%
  • amount still to be captured (t): 4,581,700
  • bio-waste current capture (% on potential generation): 57%


The German Circular Economy Act (‘Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz’, or KrWG) adopted in 2012 sets a recycling rate of 65% by 2020 for municipal waste.

A bio-waste bin is commonly used for collection (commingled garden/kitchen waste) in 402 German districts; 286 districts have access to a comprehensive separate collection system, covering the whole district.

A 2012 survey revealed that the actual rate of private households’ access to separate bio-waste collection using bio-waste bins amounts to roughly 52% nationwide, increasing to 65% in areas of comprehensive separate collection systems.

Overall, close to 40 million people in Germany do not use bio-waste bins.

Plans and Proposals

The revised Act on the Circular Economy (KrWG, 2012, § 11 paragraph 1) obliged all waste producers and mandated waste management authorities to collect bio-waste separately as of 1 January 2015. Thus, an increase in the amount of bio-waste and compost and digestate is ongoing.

Recent Update – Case Study

The typical collection scheme in Germany relies on commingled collection of food and yard waste, with low collection frequency (every week/every two weeks) and no compostable bags.

On average, Germany collects 54 kg per capita with biobins and 72 kg per capita of yard waste.

Of the 54 kg, according to some analyses, 20-30% is food waste, so seemingly the average capture rate of this fraction is around 10-15 kg per capita. Capture rates of bio-waste and garden waste in German regions.


  • total population (million): 67.03
  • % cities: 47.6%
  • % towns and suburbs: 19.3%
  • % rural: 33.1% received early warning report: no

Food waste

  • potential generation (kg/capita): 122.3
  • potential generation (t): 8,199,668 potential maximum capture with optimised collection schemes (t): 6,969,718
  • current capture (t): 1,720,000
  • current capture (% on potential generation): 21%
  • amount still to be captured (t): 5,249,718
  • bio-waste current capture (% on potential generation): 54%


Separate collection of bio-waste is not common in France, implemented in just 125 municipalities, representing 5.7% of the French population, as of 2016, according to The National Environmental Agency ADEME. Reseau Compost Plus, mentioned above, estimated in 2018 that only 9% of the population was covered by this kind of collection, compared to 99% for dry recyclables.

Plans and Proposals

Since 2016, an obligation to separately collect bio-waste has applied to large producers generating more than 10 tonnes/year (i.e. more than 30 kg/day, so the entire Horeca sector is covered).

The Energy Transition Law of 2015 states that from 2025 all producers, including households, shall implement such collection

Recent Update – Case Study

In Paris, since 2017 separate collection of food waste with the ‘Italian scheme’ based on vented kitchen caddies and compostable bags is in place in 2 districts (2nd and 12th arrondissement, 130,000 people).

The capture rate is still quite low, at 15 kg per capita per year, but the quality is good as it is still somewhat voluntary, and visual inspections are performed.

In October 2019 the scheme was expanded to another 185,000 people in the 19th arrondissement bringing the total to 315,000 people.

United Kingdom

  • total population (million): 66.65
  • % cities: 59.3%
  • % towns and suburbs: 27.9
  • % rural: 12.8
  • received early warning report: yes

food waste

  • potential generation (kg/capita): 118.1
  • potential generation (t): 7.873.663
  • potential maximum capture with optimised collection schemes (t): 6,692,614
  • current capture (t): 991,970
  • current capture (% on potential generation): 13%
  • amount still to be captured (t): 5,700,644
  • bio-waste current capture (% on potential generation): 35%


The separate collection of garden waste is commonly diffused across the UK. In recent years there has been a move towards charging for the service, which appears to have reduced performance.

The collection of food waste is more fragmented. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, legislation requires separate collection of food from all urban households and certain businesses, either together with garden waste or separately.

In Wales, only services which provide weekly separation for food waste are funded. All three of these nations have complete or near-complete roll-out. In England 45% of local authorities provide a separate service for food or food mixed with garden waste.

Plans and Proposals

In England, the Resources and Waste Strategy of 2019 is being followed up with the reading of the Environment Bill, which will require the weekly collection of food waste by all households and businesses from 2023.

Recent Update – Case Study

Contamination of compost and digestate, in particular by plastic, is of increasing concern to regulators.

In Scotland, end of waste for compost has a limit of 0.06%, while for digestate the limit is significantly lower than the UK standard PAS110.

In England, the regulator is considering the same requirements, whilst also consulting on setting a maximum input level of 0.5% to all bio-waste facilities.


The Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) is the private partner in the €3.7 billion public-private partnership with the EU – the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU).

Its membership includes 240+ industry members covering the whole value chain, from primary production to the market, across multiple and diverse sectors including agriculture & agri-food, aquaculture & marine, chemicals and materials, including bioplastics, forestry and pulp & paper, market sectors, technology providers and waste management & treatment.

BIC’s membership also includes over 200 associate members such as research organisations, academia, trade associations, etc. To learn more about BIC, you can consult our brochure here.

Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) is the European network of communities, local leaders, experts, and change agents working towards the same vision: phasing out waste from our society. We empower communities to redesign their relationship with resources, to adopt smarter lifestyles and sustainable consumption patterns, and to think circular.

A summary of the report ‘Bio-waste generation in the EU: Current capture levels and future potential’ is now available here. The full report will be made available to the public on 6 July 2020.


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