Germany has the best recycling rate in the world. Austria ranks second, followed by South Korea and Wales. All four countries managed to recycle 52% to 56% of municipal waste. Switzerland ranked fifth, recycling nearly half of the municipal waste.
According to Eunomia, the environmental consulting firm that prepared the report, these countries/regions have encouraged recycling in common government policies, such as making it easier for households to recycle waste; adequate recycling funds; and economic incentives. They also set clear performance goals and policy goals for local governments.
Some countries including Wales have set ambitious recycling targets. Wales’ goal is to achieve zero waste by 2050, and the EU is considering adopting the new 2030 target, which is at least 65%.
The report specifically pointed out that Wales, because of its "political leadership and investment", outperformed many major European countries. The report said that Wales is the “global leader” in recycling and may surpass Germany as early as 2018.
True recycling leader
Recycling more than half of the household waste seems low, but Eunomia said the reported recycling rate is overestimated.
For example, Sweden reportedly recovered almost all waste. However, Yunomia said it was only because the country viewed energy recovery from incineration as a kind of recycling, which it said was inconsistent with the usual use of the term "recycling".
Singapore stated that it recovered more than 60% of its waste, but Eunomia calculated that most of it was actually commercial and industrial waste and reduced its total amount to 34%.
Even Wales, which has performed well overall, contains a lot of rubble in its recovery rate, although it is not always considered a municipal waste in Europe. According to reports, the rate in Wales is 64%, while Eunomia drops to 52%.
Commenting on these findings, the report author and Eunomia Rob Gillies’ executive consultant said: “It is important to note that this research has been conducted, so we can determine who is the true recycling leader and share the best by focusing on these contents. Practice. The country is doing."
The report said it was trying to compare the recycling rates of urban waste as equally as possible, and called for a unified definition of urban waste and recycling among countries. Gillis said: "We also hope that this will help to debate the best way to measure the'actual' recycling debate in accordance with the principles of waste grading, in Europe and beyond."
What happens to the recycled waste?
A large amount of recycling was eventually shipped to Asia. However, China is the world's largest importer and recycler of scrap metal, plastics, and paper, and has decided not to use so-called "foreign garbage" and will ban the import of 24 types of waste. This may force industrialized countries to recycle more of their own waste.
Currently, 30% of plastics are recycled in Europe and only 9% in the US, but most plastic waste is still recycled in landfills and oceans.