European countries recycle less than a third of plastic waste: research firm

FILE PHOTO: Plastic and other waste is seen floating on the Marine Lake at New Brighton beach near Liverpool, Britain, February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The world faces a severe plastic waste crisis as even the advanced countries of Europe together recycle less than a third of the plastic they throw away, Hamburg-based research firm Statista said in a report on Wednesday.

Of the world’s total 348 million tons of annual plastic production, Europe accounts for 60 million tons, about half of which gets thrown away and only about 30% of that waste is recycled.

While rules rolled out by the EU have dented levels of single-use plastics and packaging, Statista said, vast gaps remain among member countries’ results, and recycling needs to be rapidly scaled up worldwide to confront environmental damage and climate change.

“The EU has implemented drastic measures to overcome current levels of ruinous waste generation ... (but) better waste management and a higher recycling capacity are now more imperative than ever,” Statista said.

EU countries vary widely in tackling the problem, Statista said, with only 0.1% of plastic packaging ending up in landfills in Germany but 38.2% in Spain headed to dumps.

Reporting by Noah Browning; Editing by Lisa Shumaker