The European Commission hopes that a new report, which ranks countries according to the effectiveness of their waste management systems, will improve efficiency across the continent.
The report grades 27 member states on municipal waste management using 18 criteria, such as total waste recycled, rate of landfilling and access to facilities.
“The study is designed to create a more resourceful and efficient Europe, so points out what work and what doesn't,” an EU source told European Plastics News.
Austria and Netherlands top the table with 39 points each, with both countries doing well in all categories. Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Sweden also ranked highly, sending less than 5% of their total waste to landfill.
At the other end of the scale is the worst performing country – Greece (with 3 points), Bulgaria (8 points) and Malta (9 points).
“A lot needs to be done for the countries at the bottom,” said the EU source. “It's partly about a mentality change, so we need to educate the populations, but we also need to get the right infrastructure in place.”
The Commission is using the report to prepare roadmaps for the ten worst performing countries, which will then be discussed with national authorities in the autumn. In addition, it will only invest in waste management projects if certain conditions are met, including the development of plans in accordance with the Waste Framework Directive.
Trade body Plastics Europe this week welcomed the report, saying it is important to learn from the example of the countries at the top of the table.
“With the challenges we are facing today in Europe, it makes no environmental or economic sense that seven EU Member States are diverting over 90% of plastics waste from landfill, while 15 others still bury over 60%,” Wilfried Haensel, executive director of PlasticsEurope, said in a statement.
According to the organisation, the potential value of plastics lost to landfills in Europe is roughly €8bn per year.