SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production

SDG 12 goals include reducing waste, food wastage and pollution, and making more efficient use of materials. New perspectives on consumption and innovative production methods can help businesses, governments and consumers reduce the pressure they are placing on the environment.

Summary of results
Dashboard and indicators
SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production
Further reading

Summary of results

  • Medium-term trends (2015-2022) for SDG 12 indicators are mostly stable.
  • Trends for value added of and employment in the environmental sector, resource productivity, annual reports including a section on corporate social responsibility (CSR), industrial waste, and recycled municipal waste are all moving in the direction of improved well-being.
  • For industrial waste per capita and annual reports with a CSR section, the trends have turned from neutral in 2014-2021 to favourable in 2015-2022.
  • The Netherlands is among the EU leaders on three indicators.
  • The volume of hazardous waste per capital is relatively higher than in other EU countries.

Dashboard and indicators

SDG 12 centres on transition to a circular economy: how can we use raw materials more efficiently, recycle more and waste less? Businesses, governments and consumers are increasingly encouraged to be aware of their behaviour and take conscious decisions surrounding their actions. This will help to ease pressure on the environment, reduce dependence on raw materials and thus limit the negative consequences of current consumption patterns for future generations.

SDG 12 is linked to many other SDGs, most importantly SDG 2 Zero hunger, SDG 6 Clean water and sanitation, SDG 7 Affordable and clean energy, SDG 13 Climate action and SDG 15 Life on land.

Indicator trends in this dashboard show stable to rising well-being, with the exception of the downward trend for industrial-waste recycling. Value added of and employment in the environmental sector, resource productivity, annual reports including a section on CSR, industrial waste, and municipal waste recycling are all moving in the direction of improved well-being and towards the goals of the SDG agenda. The Netherlands has three positions among the leaders in Europe, and only occupies a very low position for the amount of hazardous waste per capita.

SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production  

Resources and opportunities

The long-term trend indicates a rise in broad well-being
The long-term trend indicates a rise in broad well-being
The long-term trend indicates a rise in broad well-being


The long-term trend indicates a rise in broad well-being


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The long-term trend indicates a rise in broad well-being
The long-term trend indicates a decline in broad well-being
The long-term trend indicates a rise in broad well-being

Subjective assessment


Resources and opportunities relate to opportunities for sustainable production and consumption. Ninety of the 100 highest-turnover companies in the Netherlands included a section on sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in their annual reports in 2022. The medium-term trend (2015-2022) has switched from neutral to rising. In addition, value added of the environmental sector is contributing more and more to GDP. This sector includes companies that produce goods or provide services in the field of environmental protection and natural resources management. In 2022 the sector accounted for 2.6 percent of GDP, and the trend is rising. Internationally, the Netherlands occupied a middle position in the EU in 2019. Employment in this sector accounted for 2.4 percent of total Dutch employment; here, too, the trend is rising.

Use concerns the volumes of raw and other materials used and waste generated. The Dutch government aims to halve the use of primary abiotic raw materials (minerals, metals and fossil resources) between 2014 and 2030, and create a completely circular economy by 2050. In its Integral Circular Economy Report (ICER) 2023, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) has established that hardly any progress has been made in this respect in recent years. It also concludes that – to achieve the government targets on time – more mandatory measures will be necessary. Most crucially, factors such as longer product lifetimes, high quality recycling options, and lower inputs of primary raw materials should all be taken into account from the initial design phase of products. With a relatively low volume of domestic material consumption, the Netherlands ranked top of in the EU in 2021.

One of the Dutch policy objectives is decoupling waste production from economic growth. In other words, higher economic growth should be accompanied by relatively – or even absolutely – less waste. To reflect this, here we include indicators on waste volumes and recycling of various waste categories. In 2021, Dutch municipalities collected 9.8 billion kilograms of household waste, around 562 kilograms per capita. The data include waste collected from households or delivered by households to municipal recycling facilities, but also textiles, paper and cardboard collected for charity or by schools and clubs. In 2020, the first year of coronavirus, the volume of collected waste was slightly higher: 582 kilograms per person. Households generated large amounts of bulky garden waste, wood, construction waste and soil in particular in that year. The medium-term trend (2015-2022) is neutral. This is also the case for hazardous waste produced in the Netherlands: at 288 kilograms per capita the Netherlands is trailing in the EU rankings. More favourable in terms of well-being is the development in the quantity of industrial waste per capita: the trend for this indicator has turned from neutral to green.

Outcomes relate to how efficiently raw materials are used, and waste recycling. Extraction of primary raw materials accounts for a significant part of the Dutch economy’s impact on the environmental, both at home and abroad. Reducing the amount of raw materials used is a crucial factor in a circular economy.

The medium-term trend of resource productivity shows that Dutch manufacturers are using raw materials more and more efficiently. The Netherlands leads the EU rankings, and the rising trend points towards further improvement. To meet the needs of Dutch consumers, across the world 8.2 tonnes of raw materials were extracted per capita in 2020 (the material footprint). This figure is indicative and based on methods developed outside CBS. A lot of effort is being put into improving methods to calculate this and other footprints, for example in the context of the Integral Circular Economy Report.

Waste reuse is also an important objective under SDG 12. In 2021, nearly three-quarters of industrial waste in the Netherlands was reused, usually through companies in the recycling and in the waste and scrap metal industries. This percentage also includes useful applications of industrial waste, for example as road surfacing foundation or landfill cover, but not waste combustion with energy recovery. The trend is downward, so red. Recycling and composting rates of municipal waste are showing a rising trend on the other hand. In 2021 57.8 percent of waste was reused through recycling. Dutch households are relatively good at separating household waste; the Netherlands is high in the EU rankings for this.

Alongside the material footprint, the land footprint is a measure of total land use for Dutch consumption, i.e. how much land in the world is needed to satisfy consumption by Dutch citizens and the Dutch government. A growing population and rising prosperity, for example, may increase demand for biofuels. Larger areas of nature will be turned over to cultivation if erosion, salinisation, urbanisation or desertification make existing farmland unusable. This in turn will lead to a decline in ecosystems and biodiversity. The most recent year for which the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) has calculated this footprint is 2019: 0.62 hectares per capita. As most raw materials required for Dutch consumption are imported, over 80 percent of this land is located outside the Netherlands. Data are insufficient to calculate a trend for this indicator for 2015-2022. Also, as definitions differ between countries, it is difficult to compare the Dutch footprint with that of other countries. PBL estimates a global average of around 0.65 hectares per capita in 2018. Europeans ‘claim’ an estimated 0.9 hectares per capita, which would mean the Dutch footprint is relatively modest.

Subjective assessment describes people’s concerns about pollution, wastage, use of raw materials and other aspects of sustainability. In 2022, just over 13.8 percent of the Dutch population reported nuisance from waste, pollution or other environmental problems. The medium-term trend is neutral. The perceived problems were clearly less than in 2020 (14.3 percent) and 2021 (15.9 percent).

Further reading

Natuurlijk kapitaal
Afvalcijfers op een rij
Green Deal: CBS werkt met externe partners aan verduurzaming
Integrale Circulaire Economie Rapportage 2023 | Compendium voor de Leefomgeving (
Circulariteit Nederlandse economie nauw
Circulaire economie in Nederland
Grondstofvoetafdruk van consumptie gedaald tot 7 duizend kilo per persoon
Voorraden in de maatschappij grondstoffenbasis voor een circulaire economie