The UK has come eighth in a waste league table drawn up by the European Commission.
In a report on how the 27 EU member states manage municipal waste, the Commission rated counties on 18 different criteria.
Countries are given a red, orange or green flag for areas such as total waste recycled, pricing of waste disposal, and infringements of European legislation.
The resulting score board will be used by the Commission to help member states improve.
Top of the table are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, none of which have more than 2 red flags.
The UK scored one red flag against “existence of bans/restrictions for the disposal of municipal waste into landfills”.
The UK scored six orange flags for areas including: decoupling waste from consumption; existence of pay-as-you-throw; rate of municipal biodegradable waste to landfill; and typical charge for waste disposal.
Bottom of the table are Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
The Commission warned: “even the best performers face a number of challenges such as stepping up waste prevention and addressing overcapacity in the incineration sector, which may hamper recycling and require imports of waste to feed incinerators.”
EU environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “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.”
The full report and results are online at the Commission’s website [pdf].