UK ranks mid-table on EU recycling performance

29th August 2019 | Recycling

Official figures released by the European Union’s statistical arm, Eurostat, have suggested that the UK continues to lag behind some of the top performing member states on recycling. However, the data covering the 2017 calendar year, shows that the UK is now sending proportionally less waste to landfill than many of its European counterparts.

The figures are complied annually based upon municipal waste data submitted to the EU by member states, as well as some non-member nations. As outlined in the date, the amount of waste recycled and composted in the 2017 calendar year shows that the UK’s recycling and composting rate remained static on 44%, 3% lower than the average rate recorded by EU member states.

The Eurostat data also shows that Germany – which generated the most waste across the continent at 52 million tonnes – achieved a recycling and composting rate of 67.6% in 2017. Other top performers included Austria and Slovenia (both on 57%), the Netherlands (54%) and Belgium (53%). Overall, the UK ranked 11th in terms of its recycling rate. Countries including Norway (39%), Spain (33%) and France (43%) all recorded lower recycling rates than the UK.

On waste generated, the UK produced the third most waste by tonnage at 31 million, but ranked 15th in terms of waste produced per citizen, at 468kg per capita. Denmark topped the municipal waste generated per capita table at 781kg, while Romania was bottom at 272kg.

When looking at energy from waste, the Netherlands sent around 44% of its waste to energy recovery facilities, while Norway and Denmark sent 53%. The UK’s energy recovery rate stood at 37%, above the EU-wide average of 28%. Spain was among the worst performing member states when looking at landfill rates, sending 53% of its waste to landfill. France and Italy also both landfill more municipal waste than the UK proportionally.

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