Municipal waste

Municipal waste management and treatment play an important role to abate and control pollution. Indeed, it helps prevent the formation of greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane and other toxic gases, which form through the degradation of organic waste in landfills, particularly in warmer climates. Additionally, efficient waste management reduces the risk of spreading diseases.

Waste production depends largely on consumption, production patterns, lifestyles, among other things. In 2013, 518 kg per capita of municipal waste were produced on average across OECD countries. This figure varied from 293 kg per capita in Estonia to 751 kg per capita in Denmark (Figure 4.20). Over the past 20 years, municipal waste generated in the OECD area was stable. The largest increases were experienced in countries such as Denmark, Greece, and Austria (over 140 kg per capita in this period), while countries such as New Zealand or Slovenia registered the largest decrease in the municipal waste production per capita (more than 180 kg per capita). Despite the use of different methodologies in accounting for national waste which could influence the comparison of national data, 51% of the countries under analysis show improvements in waste management practices over this period.

Municipal waste differences also exist within the same country (Figure 4.21). Significant regional differences between the lowest and the highest regions in terms of waste per capita exist in Chile, Spain, Mexico and Canada.

Similarly, large differences are observed at the regional level in terms of recycled waste. The largest differences, among the 18 OECD countries where data are available, are observed in the Slovak Republic, Germany and Poland (Figure 4.22).


Municipal waste is generally defined as the total waste collected by or on behalf of municipalities. It includes waste from households, commerce, institutions and small businesses, yard and garden. The definition excludes municipal waste from construction and demolition and municipal sewage.

Waste recycled refers to the total waste recycled or incinerated (including composting).


National data: OECD (2016), OECD Environmental Statistics (database),

Regional data: OECD (2016), OECD Regional Statistics (database),

OECD (2015), “Metropolitan areas”, OECD Regional Statistics (database),

Reference years and territorial level

2013; TL2.

No regional data are available for Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States. See Annex B for data sources and country-related metadata. The sum of collected regional data on waste does not always match the OECD national data.

No municipal waste recycling data at regional level are available for Australia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States.

Further information

OECD (2015), Environment at a Glance 2015: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Figure notes

 4.20: Latest available year: Australia and Chile 2009; Japan 2010; Austria, Greece, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, United States 2012. First available year: Australia and Israel 2000.

Information on data for Israel:

4.20. Municipal waste (kg per capita), 1995 and 2013

4.21. Range in regional municipal waste per capita, 2013, (TL2) country average value = 100

4.22. Range in regional municipal waste recycled per capita, 2013, (TL2) country average value = 100