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Dutch, Austrians excel in managing waste

By: Charlotte Eyre

August 22, 2012

BRUSSELS (Aug. 22, 12:10 p.m. ET) — 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 landfill use 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,” a European Union source said.

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 percent 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.”

PlasticsEurope, a Brussels-based trade group for resin manufacturers, 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 percent of plastics waste from landfill, while 15 others still bury over 60 percent,” said Wilfried Haensel, executive director of PlasticsEurope, in a statement.

According to the organization, the potential value of plastics lost to landfills in Europe is nearly $10 billion per year.