The recycling targets for municipal solid waste included in the EU Waste Framework Directive (WFD) are a relevant driver for sustainable waste management in the EU. According to the WFD, Member States should reach 50% recycling rate by 2020 while 65% has been recently approved for 2035. The aims of this paper are (1) to formalise the WFD definition of recycling rate, by converting it into a model that permits a systematic comparison across systems; and (2) to test the model by using a case study, in order to explore the analytical insights derived from the results, focused on the gap between the current management situation and the EU targets. To this end, a model is presented for the case of Spain at regional level (in Spain, the regional scale is relevant because the Autonomous Communities have to comply with the EU recycling targets according to the Spanish National Waste Management Plan). Results show that most Spanish regions will have to undertake profound changes regarding waste management in order to comply with the WFD. These changes are related to increasing separate collection (of food and garden waste, particularly), improving waste treatment efficiency and limiting the disposal of unsorted waste. The model informs policy-makers about the gap between the current performance of a given system (country, region, municipality) and the WFD target and identifies trade-offs between management strategies. It also contributes to the debate on the on-going revision of the WFD, particularly on the relevance of having a consistent definition of “municipal solid waste” accompanied by waste-stream specific definitions of “recycling”.


Ignasi Puig | Sergio Sastre




Waste Management

bibliographical reference

Sastre, S., Llopart, J., Puig-Ventosa, I. (2018) Mind the gap: a model for the EU recycling target applied to the Spanish regions. Waste Management, 79: 415-427.