Waste Recycling: Which countries are the worst offenders?

With all of the recycling programmes and initiatives that have been set in motion here in the UK, it’s easy to forget that other nations across the globe haven’t quite caught up yet. Whether they’ve had other political preoccupations or simply don’t have the capital to put towards recycling schemes, these countries are still struggling when it comes to plastic and other forms of waste.

hazardous waste removal



Flag of Turkey

Prior to their recent Zero Waste Project, Turkey was recycling less than 1% of the waste it was producing annually. On top of this, a huge portion of the waste they were producing wasn’t even ending up in landfill – it was being illegally dumped elsewhere.

This is looking to change soon though. Their Zero Waste Project has set a recycling target of 35% by 2023 (55% for just plastic packaging waste), and they’ve already made strides towards this. In the first quarter of 2020, 93,000 tonnes of plastic was collected and recycled in line with the new project. Let’s hope it continues!



Flag of Chile

According to 2018 World Bank statistics, Chile is one of South America’s biggest waste producers. Unfortunately, much like Turkey a few years ago, they only manage to actually recycle 1% of the waste they produce. While the country has been taking significant steps towards improving their recycling rates in recent times, the coronavirus pandemic has managed to undo much of this progress, with much of their plastic ending up in landfill during lockdown periods.



Flag of Mexico

Each Mexican produces around one kilogram of waste a day on average, which amounts to over 100,000 tonnes in total once the whole nation has been factored in. In the country’s capital, Mexico City, the average amount of waste generated each day per person goes up to nearly two kilograms – so that’s nearly 16.5 million kilograms of waste generated in the capital alone.

In recent years, Mexico’s recycling rates have risen from 3.5% to around 5%. While this is a little better than some of the other nations on this list, there is still a long way to go, especially when you consider the sheer volume of waste produced annually.



Flag of Ukraine

Ukraine has a recycling rate of 0%, with over 94% of its waste being sent to landfill sites. There is a recycling centre in the country’s capital, Kyiv, where around one fifth of the city’s waste is brought and turned into energy. Unfortunately, however, this is the only recycling centre of its kind.

Recently, there has been a great deal of pressure put on the Ukrainian government through local media, which has brought to light many of the unauthorised waste dumps and fires at landfill sites. Hopefully this will have a positive effect on the country’s future recycling efforts.


Brown Recycling is a leading waste management company based in Stoke-on-Trent. Catering to both domestic and commercial customers, we can help with both skip hire for kitchen revamps or euro bins for trade waste collections. We have a zero-waste-to-landfill promise, too, so you can be secure in the knowledge that your waste will be handled in accordance with the waste hierarchy. For more information, get in touch with us today.


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