Northern European countries top the charts for recycling targets, but there’s still a way to go.
According to a recent report by the EU Commission, countries in southern and eastern Europe are still falling far short of achieving their EU-set targets for waste management. Bulgaria, Cyprus and Greece make up the bottom three on the list, with northern European countries, including Austria and the Netherlands, topping the charts.
The UK has secured the ninth best position out of the 28 member states in the ‘medals table’, with an overall score of 32 compared to the 39 points awarded to both Austria and the Netherlands in the top spot.
A representative from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) commented:
“Recent statistics show our recycling rate improves every year and we are sending less waste to landfill.
“There is still room for further improvement and, by working together with local authorities, businesses and communities, we will continue to see the amount of waste recycled go up, with less going to landfill.”
The top-rated countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden – were found to resort to landfill for less than 5% of their waste, a target that the UK would do well to emulate. In many UK cities, landfill space is set to be filled within ten years unless the current rate of use experiences a significant decrease.
In predictions by the European Commission, full adherence to EU waste legislation would save up to £57bn annually, and increase the annual turnover of the European waste management and recycling sector by a staggering £33bn. In addition, an estimated 400,000 jobs could be created by the year 2020, offering a much needed boost to the continent as it struggles to bounce back from the recession.
Recycling Lives welcomes the findings and, in line with its Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development, continues to strive to find ways to approach a 100% recycling rate in all of its operations. The company also works hard to train and employ as many individuals as possible from its local communities, offering work experience days to prospective employees and continuing to expand the activity of its social welfare charity, which offers unemployed and homeless individuals training in order to help them back into work. Many of the charity’s Residents choose to move into the recycling sector, and Recycling Lives’ training department is able to offer NVQs in a large number of recycling and waste management-related subjects in its specially developed on-site training zone.