The Netherlands has the best waste management in Europe

The Netherlands has, along with Austria, the best waste management programme in Europe, according to a recent report from the European Commission. The report graded the 27 EU Member States against 18 criteria such as total waste recycled, pricing of waste disposal, and violations of European legislation.

The report demonstrated startling differences between Member States in how they manage their municipal waste. Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and Belgium led the rankings. These countries all have comprehensive waste collection systems, landfill less than 5 percent of their waste, have well developed recycling systems, sufficient treatment capacity, and they perform well with biodegradable waste.

Meanwhile, several countries in southern and eastern Europe are falling far below EU targets for waste management. Greece was firmly in last place, followed by Bulgaria, Malta, Lithuania, Romania, and Cyprus. Shortcomings include poor or non-existent waste prevention policies, a lack of incentives to divert waste from landfills, and inadequate waste infrastructure.

"Many member states are still landfilling huge amounts of municipal waste – the worst waste management option – despite better alternatives, and despite structural funds being available to finance better options. Valuable resources are being buried, potential economic benefits are being lost, jobs in the waste management sector are not being created, and human health and the environment suffer. This is hard to defend in our present economic circumstances," said EU environment commissioner Janez Potocnik.

garbage bin

A recent study prepared for the Commission estimates that full implementation of EU waste legislation would save 72 billion euros per year, increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by 42 billion euros and create over 400.000 jobs by 2020 - plenty of incentive to clean up our acts.

You can find a copy of the report here, and a copy of the Netherlands' National Waste Management Plan here (in Dutch). For your information, municipalities typically have information about local waste management policies, bin locations, etc. available online, for example here's Amsterdam's waste management page.

Carly Blair


Carly Blair



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