Eco-friendly policies place Wales second to Germany as best household waste recycler, but England lags far behind other countries.
Policies brought in by the Welsh government and a target to be zero waste by 2050 have driven the country up the league table, coming in just below Germany.
With recycling rates of 63.8% for municipal solid waste, which includes household plastic and other packaging, Wales is set to become the world leader for recycling by next year, according to a report from the environmental analysts Eunomia.
However, in England, recycling rates have been flattening, and environmental secretary Michael Gove will be under pressure over rates of just 42.8%. England ranks 18th in the world, behind South Korea, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy.
Dominic Hogg, chairman of Eunomia, said: “It’s great to see the ambition of the Welsh bearing fruit, with their recycling rates close to the top of the table. It’s embarrassing for England, which… is standing still in terms of performance and dropping in the rankings as others continue to progress. We know that the public is concerned about the growing problem of waste, especially the way plastics are dealt with.”
Countries that made it into the top 10 had recycling rates of more than 50%. There were key themes and policies shared by those countries doing well on recycling.