Wales – second to no one (except Austria)

8 July 2024

Wales might not have made it into the Euros, but we are second in the world in terms of recycling ahead of many nations who competed in Germany – including Poland!  

That’s the findings of Eunomia’s global review, published in June, which is the global league table for recycling. Wales has held bronze position for many years – an incredible achievement itself - but this year took a big step up and is truly performing at the peak of its abilities.  

But how has this modest sized nation become the awe-inspiring giant-slayer, seeing off competitors from around the globe that otherwise dwarf it?  

Through a dedicated regime, a holistic approach to recycling and a world class can-do attitude.  

WRAP Cymru is proud to be part of Wales success, and supporting the giant shift the country is making towards a circular economy where it hopes to eliminate waste and keeps resources in circulation for as long as possible. As well as the environmental rewards for this move, a fully circular economy could create up to 30,000 new jobs for Wales and deliver annual savings of up to £1.9 billion in materials costs alone.  

A silver medal for recycling is the result of huge effort, across a large and enthusiastic team encompassing those working in policy, technical support and behaviour change interventions that has transformed recycling in Wales.  

Dedication has paid off, particularly with WRAP Cymru technical expertise helping review performance and efficiency and with modelling, with analysis of service improvement options and support that have helped Wales improve across the board. All funded and supported by Welsh Government.  

A hands-on implementation approach on the ground has helped deliver service changes and improvements ranging from planning and health & safety, right through to dedicated staff training and introducing wide behaviour change communications. And underpinning this has been WRAP Cymru support for councils to get the best value from the materials they collect, and a national awareness-rising campaign, Be Mighty, Recycle!  

Practice and performance speak for themselves - separate collections of recyclables, universal food collections, lower rates of food in residual waste, residual waste reductions and more have all helped Wales move up the league table in this impressive fashion.  

With global waste predicted to grow by 3.9 billion tonnes by 2050 – a 73% rise in just over twenty-five years - and more than three billion people worldwide without access to waste services, we need to celebrate excellence of this sort. Most importantly, we have an opportunity to share the tactics and learnings that have taken Wales to the next level of recycling.  

That is why we are celebrating this win for Wales, as it is a win for everyone in tackling climate change.