Waste Not Want Not: These Are The Most Wasteful Countries in Europe

landscape covered in waste and plastic
landscape covered in waste and plastic

Household waste, and what to do with it, is a topic capable of dividing nations. Should I recycle? Can I be bothered? Will I actually make a difference? People across Europe struggle with these questions daily – and as our new study shows, there are some countries who need to seriously clean up their act.

Expert Market’s latest report is the first to throw landfill rates into the spotlight to determine which European country is the most wasteful, and also highlights the financial burden countries will have to bear if they continue at current rates of landfilling.


The report analysed waste data in 29 European countries to determine the nations that are still heavily reliant on landfill sites instead of recycling and how many times their waste would fill the Colosseum.

The Roman structure is enormous even by modern day standards, it is estimated to hold 80,000 spectators (Wembley stadium can hold 90,000) and has total volume of 1,329,000m³.

Here is a list of all 29 countries in Europe ranked by total volume of waste in m³:

CountryVolume of total waste, m³
Germany106, 118, 934
France69, 350, 683
Turkey67, 160, 303
UK65, 526, 147
Italy60, 542, 823
Spain41, 936, 907
Poland22, 578, 179
Netherlands18, 322, 354
Greece11, 368, 412
Romania10, 203, 845
Austria10, 098, 770
Portugal9, 751, 901
Belgium9, 649, 981
Denmark9, 404, 540
Sweden9, 050, 854
Hungary7, 761, 313
Czech Republic6, 942, 773
Bulgaria6, 273, 848
Finland5, 670, 829
Norway4, 790, 337
Slovakia3, 712, 440
Croatia3, 452, 285
Lithuania2, 720, 842
Slovenia1, 925, 635
Latvia1, 668, 155
Cyprus1, 123, 474
Estonia983, 751
Luxembourg765, 924
Malta556, 986

Turkey is Europe’s Most Wasteful Country

Our research revealed that Turkey has the most wasteful residents in Europe, chucking away a mammoth 32.3. million tonnes of household and commercial waste straight to landfill; enough to fill the Colosseum over 44 times.

In contrast, Germany generates the highest volume of total waste of any country in Europe (106, 118, 934m³) but the data shows that the amount of waste transferred to incinerators and landfill sites would fill the Colosseum a mere 0.1 times, proving just how receptive the German public have been to the country’s innovative recycling initiatives.

The UK emerged as the 5th most wasteful nation in Europe, filling the Colosseum over 11 times. Over 20% of household rubbish in the UK is chucked straight to landfill which suggests that the country still has a long way to go in boosting recycling efforts.

CountryVolume of landfilled waste, m³How many times does landfill fill the Colosseum?
Czech Republic3,636,9092.8

Biggest Wasters: How Much Will It Cost?

As part of our study, we also calculated how much extra countries will be spending (or saving) on their landfill costs by 2025 compared to current costs.

The UK stands to make the biggest saving at €345 million if more robust waste management measures are implemented at the household level while our biggest waster, Turkey, stands to cash in on an extra €1.8 million in 2025.

More shocking are the costs that Croatia and Slovakia will face if they do not take measures to reduce their rubbish. Croatia will be spending an additional €5.2 million and Slovakia an extra €5.8 million in 2025 if they continue at current rates of waste generation.

Business Waste

Though our report has focused on household waste, DEFRA statistics show that business and commercial enterprises in the UK generated over 15 million tonnes of waste in 2014. We’ve partnered with top waste management companies in the UK to help businesses of any size to deal with their waste properly. Find out more here.







Written by:
Rob Binns
Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.
Reviewed by:
Heleana Neil, Business Services editor
Heleana Neil specialises in Business Services, managing the strategy and production of content for SMBs, helping businesses with the challenges and opportunities they face today. Covering everything from payroll to payment processing, Heleana uses her expertise to help business owners make better, informed decisions and grow their companies.