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Recycling Around the World A-Z : Estonia

Recycling Around the World A-Z : Estonia

Recycling Around the World A to Z


Recent recycling statistics have named Estonia, Slovenia, and Belgium as the best performing countries when it comes to reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.

Germany has a good recycling rate of around 65% but it generates a lot of waste. Slovakia doesn’t generate a lot of waste but neither does it recycle much.

Estonia generates less waste, and composting and recycling levels are good, which means that per person, it sends less waste to landfill and to the incinerator. The country generates around 279 Kg of waste per person, and recycles at least 40% of the waste generated.

The reasoning behind Estonia’s recycling policy

Obviously, reducing the amount of waste produced, and the amount sent to landfill is better for the environment, but it also has economic benefits. Resources are saved, and jobs are created in the recycling sector. The need to recycle high-quality materials is also a key driver of policy.

Economic incentives to recycle

Estonia has some economic incentives in place to encourage more recycling. There is a landfill tax, a tax on packaging, a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans, and producer responsibility rules for the correct disposal of electronic appliances, batteries, vehicles, and car tyres.


Household waste collections

All municipalities are responsible for organising their waste collection schemes, including deciding on the frequency of collections and what the rules are on source separation of waste. Each household pays between 65 and 100 Euros per year for a waste management service.

Any municipality with more than 1500 residents must hire a waste management service provider via public tender.

Source separation of waste

Residences comprising of more than 5 flats are required to have a separate container for the collection of paper and cardboard waste. Where there are more than 10 flats, there is a requirement to have a separate container for organic waste.

Still more to be done

Despite Estonia’s impressive per person recycling rate, there is still more to do. It will be a challenge to meet the EU recycling target of 50% by 2020. There needs to be more emphasis on improving basic infrastructure in some areas to support the implementation and successful running of recycling schemes.

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