March 28, 2013 at 8:53 am
The UK and Ireland showed a dramatic rise in recycling rates during the first 10 years of the new millennium, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Despite getting off to a bad start with only 13% of household waste recycled in 2001, the UK now resides nearer the top of the European charts at 43% in 2013.
Experts say that this puts us on form to reach the EEA directive of 50% of recycling all waste by 2017 three years ahead of schedule. Wales is even further ahead, recycling 54% of household waste and already exceeding the European directive by 4%.
In 2010, out of all EU member states Austria continued to hold the top place at 62.8% while Germany (61.8%) stole second from Belgium (57.6%). Meanwhile Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria continued to languish around the 1% mark, with the latter recording 0% recycling of waste.
Executive director of the EEA Jacqueline McGlade said that the current demand for recycled products should make a clear economic case for recycling, especially in those countries where such resources are going to waste.
Recycling conserves valuable resources and can significantly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from municipal waste. Between 2001 and 2010, changes in the way waste is managed has prevented 38 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere in Norway, the UK and Switzerland alone.
According to the report, the widespread improvement in recycling rates is due to improvements in infrastructure and process, as well as emerging trends in using recycled materials. There has been much less progress in recycling organic waste however and the UK is still sending vast amounts of valuable resources to landfill – a clear case for home composting if you ever heard of it.