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Taking out the trash

An EU citizen produced garbage volumes ranging from 316 to 833 kilograms in 2009, a new report released by the bloc’s statistics office Eurostat shows.

The worst “offenders” were the Danes, while the Czech Republic and Poland boast having the fewest litterbugs. Also near the top of the output ranks are Cyprus, Ireland and Luxembourg, with results between 700 and 800 kilograms.

The bottom of the table features nations below the 400 kilogram threshold and includes, besides the two countries already mentioned, Latvia, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania and Romania. Hungary is ranked in the middle, in the 400 to 500 kilogram slot along with Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Greece, Bulgaria and Slovenia.

As Eurostat findings reveal, the treatment of waste varies greatly from state to member state. Bulgaria topped the list when it comes to waste going to landfills, with 100%, followed by Romania (99%), Malta (96%), Lithuania (95%) and Latvia (95%).

In contrast, Germany produced the highest recycling figure with 48%, followed by Belgium and Sweden (both 36%), Slovenia and Denmark (34%), and Ireland and the Netherlands wrapping up the top league (32%).

Austria was the member state with the highest percentage of waste recycled and composted with 70%, with Germany registering 66% and Sweden, as the last of the frontrunners, 50%.

Being in the middle of the table, Hungary received no mention in any of the categories with a notable percentage. Eurostat also pointed out that in seven EU member states, less than 10% of waste was recycled or composted.

But Hungary is planning improvements in this respect by ending the current system of having recycling “islands” and instead having collectors go to residences to gather municipal refuse that can be reused. The main motivation: the collection site system failed as people didn’t make the effort to sort out their garbage and take the reusable refuse to the recycling bins. Setting up the new system will cost an estimated HUF 35 billion, leaving HUF 65 billion in the treasury from the excise duties that the affected major companies currently receive exemption from paying.