Figures show Dutch are both big gas guzzlers and avid recyclers

Plastic waste awaiting collection in Amstelveen. Photo:
Plastic waste awaiting collection in Amstelveen. Photo:

The Netherlands is one of Europe’s biggest fossil fuel importers despite also being one of the most efficient nations when it comes to recycling, according to figures from statistics agency CBS.

Among EU nations the Dutch are the sixth highest consumers of natural resources, accounting for 29.13 tonnes per person. Fossil fuels make up around half the total, a far greater proportion than any other country.

However, in terms of domestic use the Netherlands is near the bottom of the league table. Around 81% of the 59 billion kg of waste produced in the country was recycled in 2014, but this accounts for just 9% of total input.

CBS researcher Cor Pierik said the discrepancy was a result of the Netherlands being one of Europe’s biggest exporters of fossil fuels and biomass. Around one-third of all imported resources are re-exported and the gas industry in Groningen – which is being wound up over the next 12 years – is also a big energy consumer.

‘If the Netherlands phases out gas extraction and reduces the import and export of fossil energy sources and uses more solar and wind power, it will quickly go to the top of the class in terms of material usage,’ said Pierik.

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