Celtic waste

OECD Observer

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Ireland, which has been the OECD’s fastest growing economy in recent years, also produces the most municipal waste per capita in the OECD area, at some 760 kilograms per head in 2003, according to the latest OECD Factbook.

Next is the US, with 740 kg per head. Iceland and Norway are the only other countries to generate more than 700 kg per capita. Poland produces the lowest amount, at 260 kg per head, behind the Czech Republic. The average per capita for the OECD area is 570 kg.

Meanwhile, total municipal waste generated in the OECD increased by 14% from 1995-2003. Ireland’s total rose by 62% to 3 million tonnes, reflecting its rapid expansion from a low base, compared with just over 2.3 million tonnes and a rise of 12% in Finland over the same period. The only OECD members to register a decline were the transition countries in eastern and central Europe.

Among the larger countries, the US generated 214 million tonnes, or about 36% of the OECD total. Germany and Japan produced 53 and 52 million tonnes respectively, followed by the UK (37), France (34), Mexico (34) and Italy (30). That means a combined total of some 240 million tonnes, albeit for a population of nearly 500 million, compared with 293 million in the US.

©OECD Observer No 255, May 2006

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