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UK dumps more waste than EU counterparts, new LGA figures show

New research by the Local Government Association shows that the UK is sending more household rubbish to landfill than any other country in the European Union, and council leaders are calling for a radical overhaul of how the nation gets rid of its waste.


Councils warn that Britain will miss tough EU targets for cutting rubbish going to landfill by 2013.

Research by the LGA shows that in the most recent year where figures are comparable (2007) to EU countries those countries with the highest amount of household rubbish into landfill are:

  • The UK which dumps around 19.9 million tonnes;
  • Italy which dumps around 14.7m tonnes;
  • Spain which dumps around 14.3m tonnes;
  • France which dumps around 11.4m tonnes; and
  • Poland which dumps around 11.2m.

Luxembourg only landfills 85,323 tonnes of waste and Sweden landfills 187,716 tonnes.


The LGA is calling on the Government to give councils money raised from landfill tax in order for them to invest in better recycling facilities, like energy-from-waste plants, or industrial scale composting.


It also calls on the Government to toughen targets for shops and businesses to cut back on excessive packaging, which end up in householders bins and to set out clearly how it expects Britain to meet 2013 and 2020 landfill targets.


LGA Environment Board chairman Gary Porter said: Even though recycling rates have more than doubled in the last five years, Britain is still throwing more rubbish in the ground than any other country on the continent. People have done a brilliant job in recent years to recycle more, but there is still a long way to go if we are to avoid huge EU bin fines.


There needs to be an urgent and radical overhaul of how the nation throws its rubbish away. By going back on its undertaking to refund to councils the money raised through landfill tax, the Government is making it much tougher for the UK to meet its UK targets.


Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Tim Farron added: Its appalling that Britain still sends more household waste to landfill than any other country in Europe. The Government has gone back on its promise to town halls to let them reinvest landfill tax in recycling schemes. Penny-pinching ministers are in effect saying local taxpayers should pick up the tab.


Waste reduction must be our priority. The Government must set out a strategy to massively cut all household rubbish by 2020. We must see councils given the freedom to experiment with waste charging and renewed efforts to curb excessive packaging. The law needs to be changed so that producers are responsible for all products that are difficult to recycle.


LGA table of  EU landfill figures

Country

Total tonnes landfilled

UK

19,925,349

Italy

14,705,932

Spain

14,297,221

France

11,432,014

Poland

11,152,350

Romania

8,335,448

Greece

4,040,709

Hungary

3,478,053

Bulgaria

3,371,794

Czech Republic

2,521,932

Ireland

2,114,378

Finland

1,410,801

Slovakia

1,384,227

Lithuania

1,365,189

Latvia

723,498

Austria

637,000

Slovenia

583,777

Cyprus

522,646

Germany

464,340

Estonia

445,736

Netherlands

315,932

Malta

245,676

Denmark

220,295

Belgium

204,954

Sweden

187,716

Luxembourg

85,323

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