Indicator: Amount of waste – municipal waste

A graph shows the amount of municipal waste from 20102 to 2021. During this period the amount increased from 49.2 million tonnes to 51.8 million tonnes.Click to enlarge
Waste generation in municipal waste category
Source: Federal Statistical Office of Germany Figure as PDF

Table of Contents


At a glance

  • The volume of municipal waste fluctuates only slightly over time. In 2021 it stood at 51.8 million tonnes.
  • The target of environmental policy is the avoidance of waste generation.
  • This target has not been achieved for the municipal waste. To reduce resource consumption, municipal waste has to decline.

Environmental importance

Government is pursuing a variety of strategies to reduce the economy's demand for raw materials. One approach is the prevention of waste. Paragraph 6 of the German Circular Economy Act defines a waste hierarchy. It assigns the highest priority to the prevention of waste. Waste that is not generated does not cause any environmental impacts, which would otherwise be caused by its collection, sorting and further  recycling or dumping.

Germany's total volume of waste is made up of municipal waste, waste from the extraction and treatment of natural resources, other waste (particularly from production and trade), construction and demolition waste and waste from waste treatment plants. Although the volume of waste is dominated by construction waste, which accounts for around 54% of the volume, and thus primarily reflects the economic situation in the construction industry, the relevance of the respective waste streams should also be taken into account.

The indicator used here represents the development of the municipal waste sub-stream, which accounted for around 12.6% of total net waste generation in 2021. Municipal waste essentially comprises the types of waste generated by municipal waste management companies. "Waste producers" are primarily private households, administration and commercial enterprises.  The volume of municipal waste thus reflects the behavior of a broad spectrum of waste producers and is divided into non-hazardous and hazardous waste.


Assessing the development

The amount of municipal waste has changed little in the period between 2010 and 2021: While it was still at 49.2 million tonnes in 2010, the peak was reached in 2016 at 52.1 million tonnes. In the following years, the volume of municipal waste remained at levels above 50 million tonnes.

With the aim of strengthening waste avoidance, the federal government adopted a Waste Prevention Programme in 2013 with the participation of the states in accordance with Section 33 of the German Circular Economy Act (KrWG), which was updated in 2020. While the KrWG states that avoiding the generation of waste is the highest priority, the Waste Prevention Programme aims to decouple economic growth and waste volume: The amount of waste should grow at most as fast as the economy. While there was no decline in waste volumes in the period under review, a slight decoupling from economic growth can be observed: While the German economy grew by about 15.9 % between 2010 and 2021 (Federal Statistical Office 2023, GDP price-adjusted, in German only), the amount of municipal waste increased by only about 5.9 %. Further efforts are required to effectively reduce waste volumes at all stages of the value chain.



The amount of waste was published annually in the waste balance sheet of the Federal Statistical Office until the 2020 reporting year. From the 2020 reporting year, the previous format of the waste balance sheet was replaced by the Statistical Report - Waste Balance Sheet (Federal Statistical Office 2023, in German only). The waste statistics are based on a number of different surveys, which are combined into the waste balance. Further details on the waste statistics surveys can be found in the respective quality reports (in German only). In 2002, there were major shifts between the categories due to the changeover to the European Waste Catalogue. For this reason, the indicator is only presented from 2002 onwards.

More detailed information: 'Abfallaufkommen' (in German only).

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