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Germany and France top the waste league

With 310 million tonnes of waste generated every year, France is one of the biggest polluters in the EU. Only Germany (401 million tonnes) is ahead of it, according to new Eurostat data.

Last available figures (from 2020) underline that the top two countries generate roughly a third of all waste in the EU, respectively 14% and 19%.

Almost 40% of the 2.1 billion tonnes of waste generated in the EU was recycled in 2020, with a further 7% going for energy recovery and some 32% to landfill. Backfilling made up over 12%. A total of 1.9 billion tonnes of material was treated in the EU.

Italy and Belgium recorded the highest recycling rates, at 82% and 72%. France’s recycling rate was just over 50%, similar to Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Czech Republic.

The construction sector creates the most waste (37.5%), followed by mining (23.5%), manufacturing (10.5%) and households (9.5%).

Meanwhile, 47.5% of the 74 million tonnes of hazardous waste treated in the EU was recovered, of 38.5% is recycling or backfilling and 8.3% via energy recovery.

More plastic, more recycling?

Eurostat analysts note that plastic packaging waste generation increased 27% over the last decade. At the same time, recycling rates in this segment went up 38%.

The EU reported an average 39.7% recycling rate for packaging in 2021. Stricter rules saw Germany, Slovakia, Belgium and the Netherlands recycle half of their packaging waste. France was much further down the list, at only 23%.   

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