UK comes eighth in European waste and recycling medal table


A new report on how European Union Member States manage their municipal waste has shown the UK is eighth best in its approach.

The European Commission has graded countries against 18 criteria on areas such as total waste recycled, pricing of waste disposal, and infringements of European legislation.


It then awards green, orange or red flags against these criteria with red being the worst.

The UK was only marked down on one criteria, getting red for not having a ban or restrictions on sending waste to landfill. However, it was marked orange in seven areas, showing more work needed to be done on areas such as decoupling waste from consumption, energy recovered from waste, not having a pay-as-you- throw scheme, and the amount it charges for waste disposal in landfill.

But the UK scored well on having a waste prevention programme, the amount of municipal waste it recycles, and the amount of municipal waste disposed.

Austria performed best of all getting just one orange flag for its typical landfill charge and received a red flag for decoupling waste from consumption.

Greece was the worst performer, receiving just one green and one orange flag.

European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “The picture that emerges from this exercise confirms my strong concerns. Many Member States are still landfilling huge amounts of municipal waste – the worst management option – despite better alternatives, and despite structural funds being available to finance better options.

“Valuable resources are being buried, potential economic benefits are being lost, jobs in the waste management sector are not being created, and human health and the environment suffer. This is hard to defend in our present economic circumstances.”