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`Waste man` of Europe tag challenged by figures


Source: Materials Recycling Week

The UK’s colloquial title as the waste man of Europe has been challenged by figures for 2007 released by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of European Communities. In a league table of the 27 European Union countries, Denmark produced the most municipal waste per person (801kg), while Bulgaria sent the most waste to landfill (100 per cent). In comparison the UK ranked ninth for waste generated (572kg) and was seventeenth out of 27 for landfill use sending 57 per cent of the country’s waste there. The country ranked tenth for recycling and composting, which are counted separately and fifteenth for incineration. On average the EU generated 522 kg per person, 42 per cent of it was landfilled, 20 per cent was incinerated, 22 per cent recycled and 17 per cent composted.

But Charted Institution of Wastes Management deputy chief executive Chris Murphy told MRW: “Looking at these figures I wish we had some equity. [Then we could] compare apples with apples. There’s no consistency in what is called municipal waste across Europe. The UK figures are household waste but in places like Denmark it’s different.”

“There’s no explanation behind the numbers about what is recycled and how much is commercial waste. Or how much residue from the various treatments, like incineration and composting, then goes to landfill.

“Statistics can be dangerous things to take direct conclusions from if you’re not comparing like with like.”

According to the Eurostat data, the lowest amount of waste produced was 294 kg per person in the Czech Republic. Germany landfilled the least, only 1 per cent of the rubbish it produced.

Murphy added “Some of the figures are surprising, like the 34 per cent recycling figure for Estonia. Similarly 1 per cent of Germany’s waste being landfilled [makes me ask] is that being straight landfilled? And what proportion of the incinerated waste will go to landfill?”

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