Recycling Around the World: How Does the UK Match Up?

August 16, 2015

In today’s environmentally conscious world, more and more people, from all corners of the world, are setting a trend for sustainable living, which is just as well considering the world produces more than 4bn tonnes of waste each year. With the world’s population and consumption increasing, we question where does it all go?

The world’s recycling prospective varies from country to country; some taking evident measures to preserve the environment through stringent processes, while others adopt more of an alternative approach.

Here we take a look at which countries are really leading the way within the waste recycling sector.



  • Top of the recycling leader board is Austria; it recycles more than half (65%) of the country’s entire waste.
  • Not so far behind is the UK, recycling 46% of the country’s waste; a far cry from back in 2001 when we were only recycling a poor 12%.
  • Yet to jump aboard the recycling bandwagon is Romania; it recycles just 1% of the country’s waste.
  • The majority of recycling in the UK is handled by local authorities whose incentives and guidelines encourage homeowners to reuse and recycle.
  • Below you can check out Europe’s recycling rates and assess how the UK is really performing against its closest neighbours.
waste disposal llanelli



  • People of Dharavi have created a self-made recycling industry, where they operate a network of custom-made recycling and sorting facilities across the country. The industry employs more than 200,000 people and provides a reliable source of income for thousands of local people.


Japan and China

  • Citizens of China have embedded recycling into their culture with more that 2.5 million people using the industry as an additional source of income. Citizens diligently collect waste from the street and weigh the recyclable materials in for a cash reward. These scrap collectors can boost their income by an additional $150, which is the equivalent of a cab driver’s monthly wage!
  • Beijing is the proud owner of the world’s largest plastic recycling plant. Costing a whopping £300 million to install, the plant is capable of recycling 60,000 tonnes of plastic per year.



  • In Egypt, refuse waste collectors have been given the power to purchase the waste they collect. The collectors gather and recycle anything they view as being profitable.


South America

  • Brazil generates more than 140,000 tonnes of trash per day, of which more than 50% is reused and recycled.
  • More than 500 corporate companies employ approximately 500,000 recycling collectors, making it a $3 billion industry.
waste disposal llanelli


As you can see some countries have elaborate procedures and processes to aid their environmental performance, while others see that their citizens take additional steps to sort waste, often as an additional source of income.


But if you’re wondering how to manage waste disposal here in good old Blighty, help is close at hand. Take a look at our waste removal and recycling operations services, then give us a call on 01633 277 755 to book your solution today!