EU’s circular material use rate decreased in 2021

13. December 2022

Woman sorting paper waste to recycling bin

In 2021, the EU’s circular material use rate (referred to as the circularity rate; the share of used material resources which came from recycled waste materials) reached 11.7%. This means that almost 12% of material resources used in the EU came from recycled waste materials.

This information comes from data on circular material use rate published by Eurostat today. The article presents a handful of findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained article.

Compared with 2020, the circularity rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points (pp). The rate maintained a stable growth trend from 2004 (the first year for which data are available; 8.3%) to 2019 (12.0%), before declining in the years affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (11.8% in 2020 and 11.7% in 2021).


In 2021, the circularity rate was highest in the Netherlands (34%), followed by Belgium (21%) and France (20%). The lowest rate was recorded in Romania (1%), followed by Finland and Ireland (both 2%). Differences in the circularity rate among the Member States are based not only on the amount of recycling of each country but also on structural factors in national economies.


Bar graph: Circular material use rate in the EU in 2021, in %, in the EU Member States

Depending on the main type of material, the circularity rate also presented some minor differences. In 2021, the circularity rate for biomass was 20% (+0.4 pp compared with 2020), for non-metallic minerals 14% (no change), for fossil energy materials/carriers 3% (-0.1 pp) and for metal ores 23% (-1.0 pp).


More information:


Methodological notes: 

  • Eurostat is revising previously released estimates (of the circular material use rate) for the year 2020. The size of the revision is exceptional because the previous estimates were based on pre-pandemic information. The newly available waste statistics for the year 2020 reflect the shock of consumption and recycling patterns during the lockdown. The revised circular material use rate estimates for 2020 are revised downwards because the total amount of recycled waste dropped whereas the extractions of material resources did not reduce correspondingly. The revisions are bigger in some Member States than in others.



Published by CVTI