Nature and the environment

Waste accounts1995-2007


About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Waste accounts
Topic: Nature and the environment

Responsible division

Division for Energy, Environmental and Transport Statistics

Definitions of the main concepts and variables

Composting is biologically aerobic treatment by micro-organisms etc. with access to oxygen. Composting is regarded as recovery.

Construction waste is generated in connection with construction, rehabilitation or demolition of buildings or other constructions.

Consumer waste is waste generated by households. Also similar waste originating from certain industries is included here.

Disposal means all treatment not defined as recovery, principally incineration and landfilling.

Energy recovery means utilising the energy released by incineration, for instance for heating up buildings, and is calculated as the share of utilised energy to the share of produced energy.

Hazardous waste requires special treatment according to the Waste regulation, and is defined in the EU List of Waste (LoW) and Norwegian legislation defining limits for hazardous properties. Hazardous waste contains a large number of different materials and products, but constitutes one material category in the waste accounts.

Landfill means disposal of waste to approved landfill.

Material denotes substances that largely share the same chemical and physical characteristics. The material categories follow the Norwegian Standard for classification of waste (NS 9431).

Pre-treatment comprise the different processes that prepare waste for subsequent treatment/disposal, for example by sorting of waste or neutralising of acids and bases.

Products are in these statistics grouped according to the function of the final product, contrary to material types, which have been grouped according to their physical and chemical characteristics. Products are further grouped into product types. Insofar, the waste accounts are not presented in terms of product types.

Production waste is defined as waste generated by manufacturing, significantly differing in type or quantity from consumer waste.

Recovery is a collective term for recycling, energy recovery and composting.

Reuse covers the use of waste in its original form, for example discarded clothes sold in a second hand shop or sent as refugee aid, or bottles in a return scheme with deposit. Reuse is considered counted as recycling. Used products inside a return scheme are not included in the statistics.

Secondary waste is treatment products and residues from waste treatment.

Sludge is a fluid mixture of particles and water. The particles may be both organic and inorganic. The effects of inorganic and organic sludge on the environment differ considerably. Sludge is generated from important processes like: manufacturing of paper and cardboard, oil drilling, metal processes and waste water treatment. Sludge from waste water treatment is given in dry weight, while sludge from other sources are in wet weight.

Source refers to the unit generating the waste, and follows the Standard Industrial Classification (SN 2007). Various grouping levels are used, for instance manufacturing (section) and service industries (several sections). Households constitute a separate category.

Textiles are spun, woven, knitted, etc. products made from natural or synthetic fibres. Animal or artificial skin is also covered under textiles.

Treatment of waste means physically, chemically or biological processing and preparation of the waste for recovery or disposal (recycle, compost, incinerate, landfill, dumping, export or reuse) at approved plants.

Waste is defined by the Pollution Control Act §27 as: "Discarded objects or substances. Waste also includes superfluous objects from service activities, production and treatment plants etc. Waste water and exhaust gases are not regarded as waste". See also 3.1.

Waste treatment plant is assigned to all plants having treatment/disposal or pre-treatment of waste as their principal activity. Industrial landfills and incinerators having waste as a secondary fuel, for instance in the manufacturing industries, are not defined as treatment plants.

Wet organic waste is organic waste that easily decomposes, like discarded food and processing waste from the manufacturing of food products, etc.

Standard classifications

Standard Industrial Classification (SN 2007) is applied for classification by source from 2008. In 2007 and backwards SN2002 is applied. The classification by material and treatment/disposal is based on the Norwegian standard for classification of waste (NS 9431).

Administrative information

Regional level


Frequency and timeliness

Annual publication.

International reporting

Waste Account for Norway is data source for reporting waste statistics to Eurostat pursuant to Regulation on waste statistics (No 2150/2002) and to EU/OECD (Joint Questionnaire).


Micro data, calculations and revised years is archived in SAS-, Excel-, Oracle and Access-formats.


Background and purpose

The main purpose with Waste Accounts is to present a holistic overview of the waste situation in Norway. Waste streams are quantified based on three different characteristics: material type, source of origin and treatment. In the future, we aim at quantifying the waste also by product type.

Users and applications

The Climate and Pollution Agency (Klif, former SFT) makes use of the figures in their reports to the Parliament. The figures also constitute the main data source on waste statistics presented to Eurostat and OECD. Moreover, the statistics are also applied as part in the Norwegian Emission Inventory, the integrated Economic and Environmental Accounts (NAMEA) and sustainable development indicators, thereby representing a relevant foundation for resource and environmental studies. The waste account is also used by industrial and nongovernmental organisations, education and research institues and the media.

Coherence with other statistics

The Waste Account depends on an array of statistics for its calculations (see chapter 3.2 and 3.4). Simultaneously, the Waste Account forms the basis of analyses and comparisons with other statistics, both internally in Statistics Norway and within external institutions.

Principally, the Waste Account is now included in the following statistics:

  • Other waste statistics. For instance, the Manufacturing waste survey and the Waste treatment and disposal survey are forming parts of the hazardous waste statistics.
  • Discharge of methane from landfills.
  • Air pollution and energy accounts (figures on waste incineration).
  • NAMEA (Norwegian Economic and Environmental Accounts).
  • Fees and full costs statistics in the municipal waste sector.

It is considered using waste statistics in the set of sustainable development indicators.

A long-term goal is to make the waste account more integrated into a comprehensive system of environmental and socio-economic statistics. Waste amounts can then be seen in context with environmental effects from discharge to air and water, transport and logistic, employment and withdrawal of natural resources, together with environmental consequences by production and use of commodities.

Legal authority

The Waste Accounts require no separate data collection authorized by the Statistics Act, but build on other statistics were the Statistics Act is applied. See also "About the statistics" for the other waste statistics from Statistics Norway (table 1).

EEA reference

Regulation on waste statistics (No 2150/2002) requires detailed reporting on the different materials, sources and treatment/disposal methods of waste in Norway.



This version is valid for publications until year 2011. For the version describing todays methodology, go via our newest publication (from the year 2012).

The Waste Accounts statistics comprise all waste as defined in Pollution Control Act §27 (refer to chapter 4.1) but with the following exceptions:

  • Clean masses of stones, gravels and soil.
  • Other materials, which readily may be brought back into the natural cycle of the ecosystems.
  • Internally recycled production residues.
  • Used products covered by recycling systems, for instance the bottle deposit scheme.
  • Infectious, explosive and radioactive wastes.
  • Secondary waste, except incineration residues.

Contaminated soil and stones (non-hazardous) are covered, but generally excluded from the totals.

The statistics encompass hazardous waste as defined in Waste regulation §11.4. Certain estimates are also made from other selected groups of health- and environmentally dangerous waste.

The waste statistics build upon Statistic Norway's statistics on foreign trade- and production. The geographical extent is the same for these two statistics.

Data sources and sampling

This version is valid for publications until year 2011. For the version describing todays methodology, go via our newest publication (from the year 2012).

Waste account makes use of an array of different statistics/data sources. The most important ones are listed in table 1. For an overview of all sources, please refer to the publications connected with these.

Table 1. Main data sources in the waste accounts.

1. Sources for material flow calculations

Manufacturing statistics (Statistics Norway)

Foreign trade statistics (Statistics Norway)

Fishing statistics (Statistics Norway)

Transport statistics (Statistics Norway)

Fish farming statistics (Statistics Norway)

Accounts of agriculture (The budget committee for agriculture)

National accounts (Statistics Norway) (life-time estimates)

Franklin Associates Ltd. (USA) (life-time estimates and product composition)

Hjellnes COWI's report on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), commissioned by Ministry of Environment (1998) (life-time estimates and product composition)

2. Sources for waste calculations

Household waste statistics (Statistics Norway)

Manufacturing industry statistics (Statistics Norway)

Hazardous waste statistics (Statistics Norway)

Construction waste statistics (Statistics Norway)

Waste from service industries (Statistics Norway)

Waste treatment and disposal statistics (Statistics Norway)

Household waste composition data (Statistics Norway)

Building and construction statistics (Statistics Norway)

Built area statistics (Statistics Norway)

Statistics on cars scrapped for deposit (Statistics Norway)

Municipal wastewater statistics (Statistics Norway)

The landed property-, address, and building register (GAB)

Material flow analysis on fisheries by the RUBIN foundation

Statistics on recycling on different types of waste by producers responsibility organisations and the recycling industry

Forurensning (database for the businesses' self-reporting to the Climate and pollution agency)

Oljeindustriens landforening, OLF

Refer to section 3.4. Collection of data

Collection of data, editing and estimations

This version is valid for publications until year 2011. For the version describing todays methodology, go via our newest publication (from the year 2012).

One of the main intentions with waste accounts is to build upon already existing data sources, like register data and statistics. No statistical sampling is carried out in connection with the material flow calculations (see chapter 3.6) in the waste accounts.

The different waste statistics of Statistics Norway making part of the waste account use different methods of data collection. Samples and methods of data collections of waste accounts are presented in table 2. For the remaining statistics and sources, please refer to other publications (see chapter 7.1).


Table 2. Samples and data collection in the waste statistics forming the micro data of the waste accounts.



Sampling and data collection

Legal document for data collection

Household waste

From the year 2001, household waste has been based on a full scale survey in KOSTRA, covering all municipal- and inter-municipal waste companies. Before 2001, the survey covered all municipal waste. In (1992), 1995 and 1998 to 2000 there were full scale surveys.In intermediate years linear projection was applied.

Same as KOSTRA.

The Pollution Control Act is applied for plants/installations not covered by Kostra. The Statistics Act is used for statistic production purposes.

Waste from manufacturing industries

The manufacturing waste survey is a questionnaire survey based on a stratified sample of around 1600 Norwegian manufacturing industry establishments. In 1993, mining, quarrying and construction businesses were included in the survey. In 2003, quarrying and mining was included. Projection based on production value (constant prices) in other years.

The Statistics Act

Hazardous waste

The statistics on hazardous waste going to approved treatment, is based on four different registers: The declaration database (NorBas), administered by Norsas AS and owned by the Climate and pollution agency (Klif); the battery register, administered by AS Batteriretur (a producer's responsibility company for batteries); Forurensning (database containing self-reporting data from the manufacturing industries to Klif); and the import/export database, both administered by Klif. In addition, a full scale survey has been carried out each year from 2003, in order to better cover hazardous waste not registered in the four registers, but still treated in Norway, and to allocate hazardous waste to treatment method.

The Statistics Act

Construction and demolition waste

Statistics on construction and demolition waste is based upon Built area statistics, Building and construction statistics, the GAB register (covering all existing, newly built or demolished buildings since 1983), empirical factors on generated waste per square metre built, recovered and demolished area, and the Waste treatment and disposal survey. Separate construction and demolition waste surveys in 1993 (part of the manufacturing waste survey), 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2010. Projections in other years.

1993: The Statistivs Act. 1999 and 2004: Waste reports from building projects, reported voluntarily from the municipality of Oslo. 2009 and 2010: Planning and Building Act and Statistics Act.

Waste from service industries

Based on customer registers from a sample of waste collectors from 2008 and onwards, and in 2006, and from Norsk Gjenvinning (a former Norwegian waste collection and recycling company) in 1999. Projections are based on production value (constant prices) from the national accounts in other years.

Voluntary reporting in 1999 and 2006. The Statistics Act in 2008 and onwards.

Waste treatment and disposal

Full scale survey of landfills, incineration, composting and sorting plants. First reference year was 2001, annual from 2003 to 2008. The database Forurensning from 2010.

The Pollution Control Act. The Statistics Act is used for statistics production purposes.

Revision carried out in connection with waste accounts may be divided into two steps:

  • Revision of the different basic statistics
  • Revision in connection with the compilation of the account

1. Revision of the basic statistics: The possibility for revision of basic statistics varies depending on the data collection methods in use. It also depends on which institution being responsible for the data collection. The statistics on household waste, industrial waste, waste handling and hazardous waste treatment is revised mainly through the following techniques:

  • Automatic controls in the electronic forms, for example numerical limits and logical controls.
  • Comparison with previous reported figures for municipalities and enterprises.
  • Comparison with country average and comparable municipalities and enterprises.
  • Collection of missing/insufficient information.
  • Direct contact with municipalities/enterprises regarding errors or cases of doubt, which cannot readily be corrected internally in Statistics Norway.

Several revision controls are carried out automatically by computer-based applications.

The micro data concerning the service industries are based on customer registers from waste collectors. Revision of these includes identifying the establishments and connecting them to the Business register, and calculating the amount of waste per employee for each establishment as a basis for identifying outliers. No corrections are made in the micro data, but some industries delivering other establishments’ waste (transport, real estate activities, etc.) are excluded from the survey.

External sources are checked for errors or shortcomings in the following way:

  • Units and values are checked against previous reference years of the same data source.
  • Register units are checked automatically and manually against the Business register in Statistics Norway.
  • Reported values are checked against values normally to be expected.
  • Reported values are compared to values of comparable units for example assessed by size of enterprises (number of employees or turnover).

Corrections are made in copies of original fils or separat correction files. Moreover, information originating directly from other statistical sources is covered by revision routines performed by the unit responsible for the statistics or data.

2. Revision in connection with the compilation of the waste accounts: Compilation of the different basic statistics, summed up into one single account, may reveal inconsistencies in any of the underlying statistics. In addition, shortcomings in the account, not covered by the available basic statistics, must also be incorporated. This applies to both specific years and parts of the account.

These tasks are mainly carried out by the following techniques: * By returning back to the original information source, deviations of values in different substatistics can be checked again. Then, the most credible value is chosen.

  • Incomplete time series and deficiencies are interpolated. Alternatively, using for example gross product (value added), production value (output) or number of employees as an auxiliary variable, deficiencies may be amended.
  • Differences between the two principal methods (see chapter 3.6) are allocated to the categories &“Other/unspecified industry´´ and &“Other/unspecified treatment´´.
  • Time series are extended by extrapolation using an auxiliary variable.

Similar techniques are utilized also in the compilation of the different waste statistics. For further details, please refer to the associated publications (see chapter 7.1).

The waste account consists of two different sets of calculations put together. These sets are called the material flow method and the waste statistics method. The material flow method is based on data from Statistics Norway's foreign trade statistics and manufacturing statistics, combined with data on product life times and composition. In order to avoid double counting, information on production level has been used as well. Commodities in the manufacturing statistics given in other units than kilos or tonnes, or with missing data on amounts, are converted to tonnes by applying the price for a similar exported commodity in the foreign trade statistics. The material flow method is applied for paper, plastics, textiles, glass (except building glass) and wood (except building materials), and also some product types being part of underlying waste statistics.

In the waste statistics method, all available waste statistics and other statistics, factors, etc. that may derive to waste statistics are collected and compiled. Please refer to the different waste statistics for further details. For estimations of missing reference years, missing statistics for certain waste sources and for harmonizing of the waste account, please refer to chapter 3.5.


The figures are aggregated prior to release, and follow SSB's rules for confidentiality.

Comparability over time and space

This version is valid for publications until year 2011. For the version describing todays methodology, go via our newest publication (from the year 2012).

One of the goals with the waste accounts is to follow the waste amounts over time. Therefore, it has been emphasized to make the account comparable in time. As a consequence, all reference years are revised when the waste accounts are updated. On a more detailed level, the different basic statistics contain typical statistical errors, first of all due to change in data collection routines and samples. For further details, please refer to publications listed in chapter 7.1. It must also be considered some uncertainty in the waste trend for those materials having total amounts estimated from the material flow method. The reason is mainly change in classification system for commodities in 1988 and 1994 (see chapter 5.4).

Comparison of waste statistics in different countries may be problematic, because of dissimilar set of definitions etc. This applies especially to waste totals, depending on what's been included in the different countries. The same applies to waste divided into different sources. The semi-annual reporting to Eurostat, pursuant to Regulation No 2150/2002 on waste statistics, is believed to have improved this situation. A detailed description of this reporting is to be given in a comprehensive quality report, which is also reported.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

This version is valid for publications until year 2011. For the version describing todays methodology, go via our newest publication (from the year 2012).

Statistics on manufacturing, which is one of the two principal data sources in the material flow method, collect data for production in Norwegian manufacturing enterprises through an annual survey. According to EU Council regulation no 3924/91, 90 per cent of all Norwegian manufacturing has to be covered by the statistics, and actual coverage of the statistics is no higher than this. This leads to a 10 per cent underestimation of waste amounts in the material flow method.

On the other hand, several Norwegian manufacturing enterprises have units abroad, and it is unknown to which extent these units' production is included in the enterprises' reporting to SSB. Such foreign production leads to overestimation of the waste amounts.

These two uncertainties in combination may give both positive and negative errors, and the direction of the error will probably differ from waste type to waste type. The uncertainty shows in the categories "Other/unspecified treatment" and "Other/unspecified industry", and in the allocation to product type (not yet published).

The external trade statistics (ETS) build on custom registrations, covering all import and export except shipments below the threshold value of 1,000 NOK. We believe that this source of error is unsignificant in the waste account. However, the threshold value would lead to incomplete estimations of transboundary movement of waste based on the ETS could for several waste streams. Hence, such estimations are performed only for waste fractions with a large market value (sorted metals and paper).

Refer to documentation of data sources listed in part 3.2.

Refer to documentation of data sources listed in part 3.2.

The waste accounts are built upon several data sources. Important sources of uncertainty in the material flow calculations are:

  • Errors in the manufacturing statistics (see chapter 5.1) and foreign trade statistics not revealed in the revision of the material flow calculations.
  • Re-calculation of goods from monetary value into tonnes, based on price of a similar export commodity. Commonly, the reason is that in the manufacturing statistics, a number of commodities are given in units like number of article, m2 etc.. Therefore, the price of a similar exported commodity is used instead. If this replacing commodity has a different price per kilo, then the amount of waste generated will be somewhat erroneous.
  • Double counting or under counting may arise when one commodity enters the production of a second commodity. If not corrected for, the material will be counted twice. Corrections have been made. However, the production levels may in some cases be difficult to distinguish, and hence there can occur both over- and underestimation due to this source of error.
  • Changes in classification system for the manufacturing statistics in 1988, 1994 and 2008, and for the foreign trade statistics in 1988, may have caused breaks in the allocation of commodities to product type and production level, which in turn affects the estimated waste amounts in either direction.
  • Use of constant lifetime and composition estimates.
  • Products having a very long lifetime exceeding the available time series for the manufacturing and foreign trade statistics. As a preliminary approach, upper and lower life-times are set to ensure at least 5 reference years of manufacturing statistics and foreign trade statistics as a basis for the calculations. Some products with exceptionally long lifetime (concrete, wood and glass from buildings) are calculated by a separate model (see table 2). Since the release of the reference year 2010, metal waste is calculated from the waste statistics method only, due to very long life-time for several metal products.
  • Long-term storage in houses or barns etc. will give positive error when increasing the storages and negative error when decreasing the storages.

Additional data sources in the Waste account include both data based on reported information from businesses, enterprises or households, and data from registers. In addition, standard factors from selected studies have also been employed. A comprehensive description of errors and uncertainties of the different waste statistics entering the Waste Accounts is given in report 98/3, 2000/8, 2000/12, 2000/15, 2001/38, note 99/10 and NOS C625.

In the waste accounts, estimates are required in parts with originally inadequate data. In these cases, the figures are generated either from residual calculations (difference between known quantities) or imputation of numbers based on different estimation techniques. In such cases, uncertainty can exceed that found in the individual sources.

It is hard to quantify uncertainty of the waste account as a whole, mainly because the uncertainties of the different subaccounts differ markedly. The account is structured in a way that allows the relatively uncertain parts to be separated from the more certain ones. Thus, it is possible to take uncertainty into account by using either subtotals or totals.

A qualitative evaluation of uncertainties of waste accounts is presented in table 4. Levels of uncertainty less than +/-10 per cent are denoted as "low", +/- 10-20 per cent as "medium" and more than +/- 20 per cent as "high". The uncertainty in the Waste accounts is assumed to be lower for the overall level than in the single parts, due to internal harmonisation of the figures and because aggregation generally tends to lower the relative uncertainty.


Table 3. Evaluation of uncertainty in waste accounts



Part of the account

Evaluation of relative uncertainty










Wood waste




Wet organic waste






Hazardous waste

low (2009 onwards), medium (2003-2008), high (1995-2002)




Agriculture, forestry and fishing


Mining and quarrying


Manufacturing industry

medium (low in 2008)

Electricity and water supply




Service industry


Sewery and waste management medium






Material recovery




Energy recovery


Filling compound and cover material medium

Incineration without energy recovery