Recycling rates and use of recycled materials in the in the European Union (EU) are steadily growing, with the EU recycling around 55 per cent of all waste excluding major mineral waste in 2016 (compared with 53 per cent in 2010), according to European statistics agency Eurostat.
The rate for recovering construction and demolition waste reached 89 per cent (2016), the recycling rate of packaging waste exceeded 67 per cent (2016, compared with 64 per cent in 2010) while the rate of plastic packaging was over 42 per cent (2016, compared with 24 per cent in 2005).
The recycling rate for municipal waste stood at 46 per cent (2017, compared with 35 per cent in 2007) and for the waste of electrical and electronic equipment such as computers, televisions, fridges and mobile phones, which include valuable materials which can be recovered (e-waste) in the EU reached 41 per cent (2016, compared with 28 per cent in 2010).
In spite of these high recycling rates, on average only 12 per cent of material resources used in the EU in 2016 came from recycled products and recovered materials - thus saving extraction of primary raw materials. A circular economy aims to maintain the value of products, materials and resources for as long as possible by returning them into the product cycle at the end of their use, while minimising the generation of waste.
This indicator, called circular material use rate, measures the contribution of recycled materials to overall demand. The indicator is lower than recycling rates, which measure the share of waste which is recycled, because some types of materials cannot be recycled, e.g. fossil fuels burned to produce energy or biomass consumed as food or fodder.