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Da iawn Cymru! Wales named as second best recycling nation in the world

Da iawn Gymru! Cymru'n cael ei henwi'n ail orau yn y byd am ailgylchu

Wales has been named as second in the world for recycling nation in a new study published today.

Wales by far leads the way in the UK and is listed just behind Austria in the global rankings published by Eunomia Research and Consulting and Reloop.

Northern Ireland is ranked 9th, England at 11th and Scotland at 15th among the 48 countries included in the comparison.

‘Global Recycling League Table - Phase One Report’ examined the recycling performance of 48 countries, including the countries that report the highest recycling rates and many of the world’s largest economies.

It is being published today on World Environment Day.

The First Minister of Wales, Vaughan Gething, said: “It’s fantastic news that Wales has climbed to second in the world for recycling. This shows what we can achieve when people across Wales work together to deliver against ambitious targets, backed up by investment in our infrastructure.

“Thanks to the efforts of households and workplaces across Wales, we have transformed from a nation with very low rates of recycling at the beginning of devolution to one of the leading nations in the world and far ahead of the rest of the UK.

“This achievement belongs to all of us, and we are committed to improving recycling rates further still with the number one spot in the world our next target.”

Climate Change Cabinet Secretary Huw Irranca-Davies added: "This is excellent news and, with the action we are already taking, we are working towards challenging for the top spot.

 “In rolling out the successful approach to household recycling to our workplaces, we are also taking action to tackle the climate and nature emergency, while providing important benefits to the economy, by capturing a resilient supply of high-quality recycled materials.

 “This is so important for Wales because it means capturing high quality recycling that is fed back into the economy and supports creating jobs, with a high percentage staying in Wales and the wider UK for processing.

 “It also helps us tackle the climate and nature emergencies by reducing our carbon emissions and avoiding the need to extract raw materials with the damage they can bring.  

 “I often talk about a Welsh way of doing things and the team effort which had led to today’s achievement is one should all be rightly proud of – da iawn Cymru!

AWD Group are a Welsh company who play an important role in the circular economy here in Wales. Their plastic granulation line was grant supported by the Welsh Government’s pilot of the Circular Economy Fund.

Managing Director of AWD Group Ltd, Alun Wyn Davies said: “We take in 300 tonnes of mixed rigid plastics a week and we're proud of the contribution we make towards our recycling targets in Wales.

“Cleaning and processing this material is hard work, but recycling these plastics is important because it would have historically gone to landfill and wouldn't break down for hundreds of thousands of years.

“We're proud to employ 38 staff members and will soon introduce a second shift which will employ an extra 22 jobs. Most of the people who work here are from Neath Port-Talbot. I'm from the area myself so employing local people is important to me, especially with the current situation at Tata.

“Wales are truly on the map with these recycling figures, and that's a huge achievement."



Notes to editors

Notes to editors


TOMRA, the International Aluminium Institute, the Can Manufacturers Institute and the Welsh Government funded the research by Eunomia in collaboration with Reloop with the aim of ascertaining who is doing what well when it comes to recycling.


The top 10 performing countries


Adjusted RR



Recycling Rate

























Northern Ireland



South Korea



The report compares countries’ recycling rates on a like-for like basis. The focus is on ‘municipal waste’ recycling rates in line with the definition used by the EU. Municipal waste is household waste and waste from other sources that are similar in nature and composition to household waste.

A country’s performance was analysed from their officially reported recycling rate (if they have one – wherever possible using a figure that approximates a “municipal” recycling rate) and endeavours to use underlying waste data and other published sources to adjust the results to present them on a consistent basis.

Eunomia’s report can be found here;

Where does your recycling go? | My Recycling Wales