A record 43% of municipal waste was either recycled or composted in the EU in 2013, according to the latest Eurostat figures published on Thursday.
Although the share of recycled waste reached 28%, 31% of waste was still landfilled and 26% incinerated.
The figures show significant differences in waste treatment methods between member states. More than two-thirds of Germany’s waste was either recycled or composted, and Slovenia, Austria and Belgium also achieved rates above 50%.
By contrast, Estonia, Denmark and Sweden incinerated at least half of their municipal waste. And Romania, Malta, Croatia, Latvia and Greece landfilled more than 80%.
The amount of municipal waste generated per person in the EU was 481kg in 2013, down from a peak of 527kg in 2002, according to Eurostat. Romania, Estonia and Poland generated the least waste, each less than 300kg per person, while Denmark produced by far the largest amount at 747kg per person.
The European Commission is planning to table a new proposal on waste targets and policies by the end of the year after it withdrew plans presented by its predecessor last summer.