Plastic waste pollution is a global problem, and the cold hard facts of the matter is that all countries need to adopt better long-term strategies in the war against plastic waste. Nevertheless, some countries are a long way behind others. While the biggest culprits in terms of sheer volume are countries like China and the United States, due to their population sizes, the most accurate barometer of success and failure is to look at the percentage of plastic that ends up in landfill. Here are the five worst nations.

#1. Chile

Chile is the number one worst country for recycling plastic, with less than 1% of their total usage actually being recycled. Sadly, a huge 99% ends up in landfill. Aside from the obvious alarm bells that this should ring, it should also be noted that this signals a 27% increase since the turn of the millennium. While funding has naturally been a major issue, the Chilean public’s desire to up its game is highlighted by a pioneering recycling drive in one of Santiago’s poorest suburbs. 

#2. Turkey

Like Chile, Turkey recycles just 1% of its total plastic as the other 99% ends up in landfill. Furthermore, this signals a 6% increase in landfill waste and 33% reduction in recycling since 2000. Turkey and Chile are the only countries to see a decline in this time, but the government’s Zero Waste Project is destined to significantly boost the recycling rates over the coming years. In fact, the country aims to hit 35% by 2023.

#3. Mexico

With just 5% of its plastic actually being recycled, Mexico is still in a very bad state. However, the country has implemented several initiatives at a government level while individuals are trying too. Those efforts have seen a 190% increase in recycling rates since 2000, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Unfortunately, the country still isn’t ready to have proper waste management in the slums, which is one of the chief reasons for its problems.

#4. Greece

Given the economic problems that Greece has faced over the last decade or two, it’s understandable that their recycling habits haven’t reached the desired level. Still, an 81%-19% recycling-to-landfill ratio in favour of landfill is not good. Recycling has still seen a 176% increase since the year 2000 while Greece has become a late developer. It has been partly due to EU fines, but the key fact is that improvements have been made and are set to continue over the coming years. 

#5. Israel

Like Greece, Israel sends 81% of its plastic waste to landfill and just 19% to recycling centres. And like Greece, Israel has had other political priorities to focus on in recent times. While it’s not an excuse, it is a reason. Improvements such as the bans on waste disposal in public areas and fines for violations on recycling laws have contributed to a 263% increase in recycling since the turn of the century, and those incentives continue to push Israel towards a brighter recycling future.