The UK grew its recycling rate faster than any other European country over the period from 2001 to 2010, new data from the European Environment Agency shows.
With a recycling rate of just 12 per cent in 2001, the UK had grown to 39 per cent by 2010. Ireland showed the next fastest growth rising from 11 per cent to 36 per cent over the same period.
Austria recorded the highest overall recycling rate with 63 per cent followed by Germany with 62 per cent, the Netherlands (51 per cent) and Switzerland (51 per cent).
The UK was also now ahead of the European average of 35 per cent.
European Environment Agency executive director Jacqueline McGlade said: “In a relatively short time, some countries have successfully encouraged a culture of recycling, with infrastructure, incentives and public awareness campaigns.
“But others are still lagging behind, wasting huge volumes of resources. The current demand for some materials should alert countries to the clear economic opportunities in recycling.”