Eurostat calculates the amount of municipal waste generated per person in the EU at 513kg in 2022 – down by 19kg from 2021, yet 46kg higher than in 1995 – and an average of 249kg recycled by each citizen, 15kg lower than three years ago.

The highest amount of municipal waste is thought to have been generated in Austria at 827kg per person, followed by Denmark at 787kg and Luxembourg at 720kg. Romania (301kg), Poland (364kg), and Estonia (373kg) are named as the lowest waste generators.

These differences between countries are attributed to variations in consumption patterns, economic landscapes, and available collection and management infrastructure. How much waste is collected from commerce, trade, and administration and managed alongside household waste is also said to differ internationally.

In terms of recycling, Austria, Denmark, and Germany reached the highest amount of recycled waste per person at 516kg, 411kg, and 409kg, respectively. Romania (36kg), Malta (75kg), and Greece (90kg) came at the bottom of the list.

These statistics follow a warning from the European Commission that eighteen EU Member States could fail to meet one of, if not all of, its goals to prepare 55% of municipal waste and 65% of packaging waste for reuse or recycling by 2025, and to decrease their landfilling of municipal waste below 10% by 2035.

Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Latvia, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden are not expected to meet the municipal waste target at current rates, while Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia are feared to miss both the municipal waste and overall packaging waste targets.

Similarly, it is feared that signatories of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment remain ‘off track’ when it comes to implementing reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging by 2025, although their collaborative efforts in the fight against plastic pollution are considered a step in the right direction.

Plastics Recyclers Europe adds that Europe’s installed plastics recycling capacity declined in growth rate year-on-year by 7% and reached 12.5 million tonnes in 2022, which may cause the continent to miss legislative targets.

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