10 March 2009

UK achieves ninth best recycling rate in Europe

The UK achieved Europe's ninth best recycling and composting rate for municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2007, according to

figures published yesterday (March 9).

The European Commission's (EC) statistical office, Eurostat, released its first set of comparative data for the MSW recycling and composting rates achieved by the European Union's (EU) 27 member states.

And, the UK's 34% recycling and composting rate for MSW was below the 39% achieved by the EU as a whole and significantly less than the top performing nations which included Germany with 64%, Belgium with 62% and the Netherlands with 60%.

However, it fared better than the likes of Spain and France, who both achieved a 30% rate in 2007, and was only marginally behind Ireland, which reached 36%.

Waste creation

The figures were accompanied by waste creation data that shows that, at 572kg per head of population, the UK generated significantly more MSW than the Europe-wide figure of 522kg per head in 2007.

While this means the UK generated the ninth largest amount of MSW per head in Europe, well above those producing the least waste per head such as the Czech Republic (294kg) and Slovakia (309kg), it produced markedly less waste than Ireland (786kg) and Denmark (801kg).

And, the 572kg figure represents the third successive annual drop in the amount of MSW produced by the UK, from a high of 605kg per head in 2004.

Landfill

With 57% of its municipal solid waste sent to landfill in 2007, the UK landfilled much more than the 42% recorded across the EU as a whole, but was significantly less reliant on landfill than like of Bulgaria (100% waste to landfill) and Romania (99%).

Particularly low levels of landfilling were recorded by Germany – with just 1% of MSW being disposed of in this way, the Netherlands (3%), Belgium (4%) and Sweden (also 4%).

These low figures were often accompanied by high levels of incineration, with Sweden treating 47% of its MSW in this way, the Netherlands sending 38% for incineration and Germany reaching a 35% figure.

In contrast, the UK incinerated just 9% of its waste in 2007, one of the lowest levels in Western Europe, and the data also shows that the proportion of waste the UK treats in this way has not changed significantly over the past decade.

 Muncipal Waste 2007

    Municipal waste treated %   
  Municipal waste generated, kg per person  Landfilled Recycled and Composted  Incinerated

EU27 

522

42 

39

 20

Austria

597

13

59

28

Belgium

49

4

62

34

Bulgaria

468

100

0

0

Cyprus

754

87

13

0

Czech Republic

294

84

3

13

Denmark

801

5

41

53

Estonia

536

64

36

0

Finland

507

53

36

12

France

541

34

30

36

Germany

564

1

64

35

Greece

488

84

16

0

Hungary

456

77

14

9

Ireland

786

64

36

0

Italy

550

46

44

11

Latvia

377

86

14 

0

Lithuania

400

96

3

0

Luxembourg

694

25

28

47

Malta

652

93

7

0

Netherlands

630

3

60

38

Poland

322

90

10

0

Portugal

472

63

18

19

Romania

379

99

1

0

Slovakia

309

82

7

11

Slovenia

441

66

34

0

Spain

588

60

30

10

Sweden

518

4

49

47

United Kingdom

572

57

34

9

Figures courtesy EuroStat

 


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