There is still a long way to go to realise the potential of a circular bioeconomy using biowaste, with only 16% of food waste currently being separately collected in Europe.
This is the headline finding of a new report published by the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) and Zero Waste Europe (ZWE).
The report gathers data on waste generation and collection from around Europe, focusing on two major types of biowaste – food waste and garden waste.
Though data from different countries is often not directly comparable, the authors made a series of assumptions and calculations to establish an estimation of total food waste generation in the EU, as well as the current rate of capture.

Theoretical potential generation of food waste EU27+. Source: Bio-waste generation in the EU: Current capture levels and future potential, p13


Comparison theoretical potential / currently collected (food waste and bio-waste). Source: Bio-waste generation in the EU: Current capture levels and future potential, p16

The data concludes that current capture of food waste is 9.5 million tonnes per year, just 16% of the theoretical potential.
Performance varies between countries – while in Italy 47% of food waste is collected, the figure stands at just 3% in Spain.

Realising the potential

Innovative valorisation technologies can help Europe get value from biowaste, converting a challenge into an opportunity for green growth and jobs.
But as shown in the report, in order to realise this potential biowaste collection and management will need to improve across all of Europe.
In the SCALIBUR project we want to help this process, and in the coming months will share good practices on selective collection, transport, sorting and pre-treatment, and characterisation.
This will help cities and regions to achieve the EU requirement for all food waste to be separately collected by the start of 2024.
You can download the full report ‘Bio-waste generation in the EU: Current capture levels and future potential’ here.