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Newsletter and Technical Publications
<Municipal Solid Waste Management>

Regional Overviews and Information Sources
Europe

2.3 Topic b: Collection and transfer

Waste collection in Europe differs considerably among regions and countries, based on densities and degree of economic development, but it is possible to speak of a common model or approach. Most Western European countries organize waste collection in twice-weekly, weekly, or biweekly routes using 120- or 140-liter rolling carts, which are collected with semi-automated compactor trucks, usually having dual self-dumping lifts. In more southern European nations, these compactor trucks may be loaded from ordinary garbage cans and/or bags. Scandinavian countries have a tradition of setting out and collecting household waste in tall 120-liter kraft paper bags in a stationary metal frame. In Eastern Europe and in areas with a preponderance of multi-family apartment houses, such as Southern Finland, residents may be offered one- to two-cubic yard containers for depositing their household waste. These are emptied, usually by rear-loading compactors, once or twice a week. In certain housing complexes in Eastern Europe, kitchen wastes are still collected in open containers and hauled away for swine feed.

Waste collection vehicles may go directly to disposal facilities (landfills or incinerators), or they may go to a transfer facility, where the waste is compacted into larger vehicles for longer haul distances. Transfer in most cases consists of the compactor truck or other type of collection vehicle (such as an open truck, pickup truck, or wagon) arriving at the transfer facility and dumping its load of waste into a pit or onto a tipping floor. A front-end loader or bulldozer usually loads the waste onto a conveyor or a chute, from which it goes into a special compacting container. These are usually of large capacity and have high compaction ratios, and are used to densify the waste for more efficient long-haul transportation. In some cases, bulky waste and/or recyclables, especially corrugated cardboard, are separated on the tipping floor, both for their market value and to make the compaction more efficient. The baling of trash for long-distance hauling is not well developed in Europe, although long hauls are becoming more common as companies rush to exploit cheap disposal opportunities in Eastern Europe.

In general, transfer stations dealing in residential waste are run by some public entity, but private operators are entering this phase of MSWM.

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