Around 42% of municipal waste treated by the Member States of the European Union was recycled or composted in 2012, data published by the European Commission has revealed.
This means that the UK is performing above average in Europe at 46%, and is in tenth place in terms of recycling without composting along with Luxembourg and Austria, which each hold a 28% recycling-only rate.
The findings show that the UK generated around 472kg of municipal waste per person in 2012, 20kg less than the EU average.
And, of the estimated 465kg of waste treated per person in the UK, around 37% was sent to landfill and 17% sent for energy recovery.
Meanwhile, the amount of municipal waste generated and the treatment methods used differentiated widely between countries.
Denmark saw the highest amount of waste generated in 2012 producing 668kg per person, while Czech Republic recorded the lowest amount with just 308kg per person. Germany, Austria and Belgium also recorded high amounts of municipal waste, but managed to recycle or compost over 50% of waste generated. Germany alone treated 65% of its municipal waste, with 35% going to energy recovery and zero waste to landfill.
In contrast, Romania landfilled 99% of its municipal waste arisings, closely followed by Malta, Croatia, Latvia, and Greece, which all landfilled over 80% of waste.
Data presented in the EU findings is likely to be used by environmental consultancy Eunomia, which is currently conducting a study for the European Commission on the development of waste legislation. The first part of the study was delivered as part of a consultation, which found three quarters of respondents would favour changes to the EU’s waste and recycling targets beyond their existing levels.
A version of this story was originally posted on letsrecycle.com