UK tenth best recycler in Europe

The UK had the tenth highest recycling rate in Europe in 2015, while Germany maintained its top position, according to figures published by the European Union today (30 January)

UK tenth best recycler in EuropeThe EU’s statistics body Eurostat has released the data, charting 2015 waste stats for all of European nations, which showed that the UK is currently the continent’s tenth highest recycler of municipal waste, joint with Italy in recycling 43.5 per cent.

Germany was once again Europe’s top recycler with a rate of 66.1 per cent, up from 65.6 in 2014. According to Eurostat, Germany has recorded the highest recycling rate every year since 2005, when it first broke the 60 per cent barrier. (Germany’s method of calculating recycling, however, differs from other EU countries, and there is evidence that the rate would fall if it were calculated according to a method advocated by the EU.)

The UK dropped one place in the table from ninth in 2014 due to the prodigious increase reported by Slovenia, which climbed from 12th to third by increasing its rate from 36.0 per cent to 54.1 per cent.

Slovenia has focused on minimising its waste in recent years, and, after recording a recycling rate of 22 per cent in 2010, had progressed swiftly to 42 per cent by 2012, before dropping back down to 36 per cent in 2014. In September 2014, the mayor of Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital and largest municipality, became the first European capital to adopt a zero waste goal, prompting Resource magazine to look at what’s being done to stomp out waste in the nation.

The EU has set a 50 per cent recycling target for all of its member states by 2020, and by the end of 2015 only six nations had hit the goal. The UK’s recycling rate famously fell for the first time last year, after a rapid rise in the early 2000s became a stagnating rate after 2008. Sweden, in seventh place, also saw its recycling rate fall in 2015 from 49.9 per cent to 48.0 per cent, putting its chance of hitting the target at risk.

Of the 27 nations that submitted a recycling rate for the dataset, Montenegro (5.4 per cent) had the lowest rate, followed by Malta (6.3 per cent), Slovakia (14.9 per cent) and Cyprus (17.9 per cent).

Recycling rate – Top 10:

  1. Germany – 66.1 per cent
  2. Austria – 56.0 per cent
  3. Slovenia – 54.1 per cent
  4. Belgium – 53.4 per cent
  5. Switzerland – 52.7 per cent
  6. Netherlands – 51.7 per cent
  7. Sweden – 48.0 per cent
  8. Luxembourg – 48.0 per cent
  9. Denmark – 46.3 per cent
  10. UK – 43.5 per cent

UK just exceeds EU average for waste generation

The amount of municipal waste generated per person in the EU rose for the first time since 2007 in 2015, and though the 2015 figure of 477 kilogrammes (kg) per person was down nine per cent from the highest number recorded in 2002 (527kg), it was up very slightly from 474kg in 2014.

UK tenth best recycler in EuropeThe highest amount of waste generated per person was in Denmark (789kg), more than half of which was incinerated. A big drop followed to second place Switzerland (725kg) and then to Cyprus, whose inhabitants created 638kg of waste each, 74 per cent of which went to landfill. Germany, Europe’s top recycler, created the fourth most waste per person, and most overall (just under 50 million tonnes).

The UK, meanwhile, was 13th on the list, recording 485kg per person, the highest figure since 2011 (491kg), and a three kg increase on 2014. The average for the EU28 was just under the British number at 477kg.

Of the countries listed on Eurostat, Kosovo had the lowest waste generation per capita in 2015 (178kg), followed by Serbia (259kg), Poland (286kg) and the Czech Republic (316kg).

Municipal waste generation per person – Top 10:

  1. Denmark – 789kg
  2. Switzerland – 725kg
  3. Cyprus – 638kg
  4. Germany – 625kg
  5. Luxembourg – 625kg
  6. Malta – 624kg
  7. Austria – 560kg
  8. Montenegro – 533kg
  9. Netherlands – 523kg
  10. France – 502kg

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