Share of food waste in residual household waste

This indicator shows the organic kitchen waste that ends up in household waste.

48 kg/cap.

  • About 48 kg of food waste per inhabitant was collected through household waste in 2020. Most of it is compostable.
  • Around 175,000 tonnes of food is thrown away in household waste every year.

What do we see?

The graph below shows some results of the sorting analysis regarding the organic-biological fraction in household waste. During the period 2019-2021, about 48 kg per capita of kitchen waste was recovered, of which about 45 kg was compostable. Results from previous analyses show much variation; however, the majority of kitchen waste in household waste is compostable.

In more detail, we see that in the 2019-2021 measurement, almost half of kitchen waste is unavoidable: this concerns non-compostable items such as bones, fish bones or tea bags and compostable items such as peels and egg shells. The other fractions amount to food waste: if we extrapolate the figures to Flanders, this amounts to about 175,539 tonnes of food thrown away every year.

What’s the aim?

For kitchen waste, nature has in principle provided End-of-Life options, however, this does not mean that it is automatically processed in the ideal way. When this type of waste ends up in residual waste, only energetic valorisation takes place. The aim is to put it into composting or fermentation as much as possible, so that the nutrients can again be used for plant growth; use as animal feed is also a good option. The avoidable fraction in residual waste is equivalent to food loss: here, in fact, all the inputs used to produce it are also lost. Kitchen waste should be limited mainly to the unavoidable fraction and valorised outside the residual waste stream as much as possible.

What does this indicator measure?

The sorting analysis is based on a fully manual analysis of household waste. The analysis consists of four seasonal measurements of household waste presented for collection from a representative sample of 2,000 households spread across 39 Flemish municipalities. This measurement was last carried out in the period 2019-2021; in the past 20 years, the measurement has been carried out four times. The organic-biological fraction was sorted out in even more detail because of the importance of preventing food loss. For comparison with previous sorting analyses, slightly different data are used to allow for correct comparison: the summer season was not analysed in the 2000-2001 and 2006 analyses.

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Food residues and food loss
883.7 kt food loss

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This indicator shows the amounts of food losses and by-product streams per step in the Flemish food chain.
Valorisation of residual food streams
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Valorisation of residual food streams

This indicator shows the quality of valorisation of food waste streams by link.
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1,445 kt digestate / 451 kt compost

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This indicator shows the amount and destination of digestate and compost in Flanders.
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3.6 Mt

Collection and processing of organic residual waste

This indicator shows the evolution of the stream of organic residual waste sorted for collection.