Cross-sector partnership ASSSURE has released its analysis of the Packaging and Packaging Waste statistics for 2002.
It shows that on average, the 12 EU countries affected by the Packaging Waste Directive have already met the 2008 target to recycle 55% of packaging waste.
However, the UK is one of five countries with a packaging recycling rate still lower than this, trailing at 44%.
It said: "Some Member States who began slowly have made impressive progress since 1998 with recycling figures increasing: 19% in the case of Italy, 16% for the UK and 10% for Spain."
ASSURRE managing director Bill Duncan said: "Member States each have to meet the overall and material-specific targets individually rather than on average of course, but the signs are encouraging as the late starters are clearly making steady progress, while the early leaders are tending to concentrate on bringing the costs of their systems down."