Global – Researchers at the US universities of Yale and Columbia have released the biannual Environmental Performance Index, which once again details how 180 countries around the world are doing across a wide range of sustainable practices. Finland performed best of all, followed by Iceland, Sweden and Denmark.
For the first time, the United Arab Emirates is ranked in the index’s top 30. The emirate of Sharjah, for example, has achieved a 70% recycling rate in less than a decade and is hoping to become the first in the region to record zero waste sent to landfill.
Another country that has greatly improved its performance since 2012 is Portugal, which climbed 24 places to 17th, partly thanks to an increase of seven percentage points in its recycling rates. Under Portugal’s Green Point System, plastics and metals collections increased 27% by weight year on year while paper and cardboard showed a gain of 10% over 2012.
The lower reaches of the index featured countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the UK finished 12th, the USA 26th, Germany 30th, Japan 39th and China 109th. The researchers stressed that, despite big improvements in global recycling and access to safe water, half of the world’s population still breathes polluted air.