European recycling rates rise as landfill use falls

Less of Europe’s household rubbish is being sent to landfill and more is being recycled than 10 years ago. A new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) compiled municipal waste management statistics from 2004 to […]

By Jonny Bairstow

Less of Europe’s household rubbish is being sent to landfill and more is being recycled than 10 years ago.

A new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) compiled municipal waste management statistics from 2004 to 2014 in all 28 EU states plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

The report shows 27 of the 32 countries reduced their use of landfills, with the overall rate falling from 49% in 2004 to 34% in 2014. In eight countries, including Sweden, Norway and Switzerland, almost nothing went to landfill.

Overall recycling rates also saw an improvement, rising from 23% to 33%. The UK saw a massive increase from 23% to 44% during the period.

However, the results were not entirely consistent across the board – in seven countries, the proportion of recycled municipal waste barely changed and in two, it decreased slightly.

Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Malta and Turkey are still sending more than three quarters of their municipal waste to landfill. These figures will need to improve rapidly if the EU’s 2020 target of recycling half of all household waste is to be achieved, the EEA states.

Earlier this year the EU announced it would be taking Slovakia to court for violating landfill rules.

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