In the EU28, 492kg of municipal waste was generated per person in 2012, while 480kg of municipal waste was treated per person. This municipal waste was treated in different ways: 34 percent was landfilled, 24 percent incinerated, 27 percent recycled and 15 percent composted.
For the EU there has been a significant increase in the share of municipal waste recycled or composted, from 18 percent in 1995 to 42 percent in 2012.
In 2012 the UK recycled and composted 46 percent and Ireland recycled 45 percent.
The country with the highest recycling rate, including composting, is Germany with 65 percent (Austria, 62 percent, and Belgium, 57 percent, are also among the highest). The lowest were Romania and Turkey, which both recycled and composted just one percent, landfilling the remaining 99 percent of its municipal waste.
The amount of municipal waste generated varies significantly across member states, with the highest being Denmark, with 668 kg per person, and the lowest recorded were Croatia, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Estonia, which were below 400kg per person.
The United Kingdom, Lithuania, Spain, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belgium, Portugal and Hungary had values between 400 and 500kg.
The UK landfilled 37 percent and sent 17 percent for incineration. Ireland landfilled 39 percent and sent 16 percent of its municipal waste for inceneration.
According to EU recycling targets, member states are required to recycle 50 percent of its municipal waste by 2020.
Commenting on the news, CIWM chief executive Steve Lee said: “It is encouraging to see that we are now among the top ten performers on recycling and composting, with Wales making a particularly strong contribution. This is no time to take our foot off the pedal, however. Our commitment to maintaining and improving performance will have to be stronger than ever in the face of budget cuts and evidence that recycling is flatlining in some areas.
“We are also creating a lot less waste per person than many of our western European neighbours, outperforming countries such as Germany (611kg) and Denmark (668kg). That said, issues around data comparability mean that these figures should be taken with caution. We should also be mindful that the current economic climate is impacting on waste generation, which could rise again in the future as the economy improves.
“We are not doing so well on energy recovery from waste compared to many of the EU15 countries. With around 37 percent of our waste still going to landfill, further efforts need to be made to realise the energy value in our residual waste stream whilst we redouble our efforts to recycle and push forward with re-use and prevention.
“The data also strongly suggests that many EU countries will struggle to reach the 2020 targets for 50 percent recycling and composting target and the Landfill Directive BMSW diversion target. This supports CIWM’s belief that serious thought needs to be given to either a two-tier system or individual country targets.”