EU’s circular material use rate decreased in 2021

According to Eurostat, in 2021, the EU’s circular material use rate reached 11.7%. 

This means that almost 12% of the material resources used in the EU came from recycled waste materials.

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 in each country but also on structural factors in national economies.

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).


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