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Epro Statistics

Plastic packaging waste statistics 2011: 33% recycling, 33% energy recovery and 33% landfill;

EU 27+2 recycled 5.246m tonnes, 33.6%, of all its plastic packaging waste in 2011, easily surpassing the EU’s minimum target of 22.5%, says the annual report Plastics -The Facts 2012. This report has been produced in partnership between PlasticsEurope, EuPC, EuPR and EPRO (The Plastic Data Alliance)

Energy recovery hit 33.2%. In total 66.8% (65.9%) of all plastic packaging waste was recovered in 2011, with 33.2% (34.1%), the balance going to landfills.

The recovery results for packaging of 66.8% are better than for other plastic applications as the recovery rate for all plastics reached 59.3% (57.9%). Packaging contributes with 62% of all plastic waste, but as much as 83% of all plastics recycled. Packaging thus lifts the average recycling rate for all plastics in Europe, EPRO says.

The recycling rate for plastic packaging rose from 32.6% in 2010 to 33.6% in 2011. This shows that the national recycling schemes in Europe, based on extended producer responsibility, manage well, EPRO says. Each country has normally, either by law or a covenant, fixed national targets for recycling and energy recovery. These regulations are based on the EU directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (94/62/EU).

Except for Malta and Cyprus all the EU 27+2 countries in 2011 exceeded the EU minimum targets of 22.5% recycling. 18 countries even recycled more than 30%. In 2011 Netherlands ranked on the top with a recycling rate of 48.4% followed by Czech Republic, Sweden, Estonia and Germany.

Regarding energy recovery results there are big differences within Europe. Nine countries energy recovered more than 50% of their plastic packaging waste in 2011 and obtained all a total recovery rate (recycling + energy recovery) above 90%. This means that less than 10% was landfilled in these countries. At the other end of the ranking list, we find a couple of countries that still does not energy recover any plastic waste. Nine countries landfilled more than 50% of their plastic packaging waste, among them UK with 66%. 63% of the post- consumer plastic packaging waste is generated from households, the remaining 37%, comes from the trade/ industry segment. The recycling rate for trade and industry sector reached 36.6%, while recycling for the households segment obtained 31.3%.

The following EPRO countries include all kinds of plastic packaging in their household collection schemes: Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, either in a separate plastics fraction or together with other light packaging (yellow bin). In other countries like Austria and UK some parts of the country collect all plastic packaging while other regions concentrate on just rigid plastic packaging. Germany, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden are among countries having a deposit system for beverage bottles in addition to the general household collection scheme for plastic packaging. In Belgium, France and Switzerland the systems focus on rigid plastics (bottles), but France is now making tests in order to expand the scope of the system to comprise all plastic packaging. How to sort, recycle and recover mixed streams of plastic packaging is a main issue for EPRO.

Several EPRO members are also active within the agriculture sector, collecting and recovering agriculture film and rigid plastic packaging waste from the farmers.

In 2011 the agriculture sector generated 1.315m tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste. This equals 5.2% of all plastic waste generated within EU27+2. In 2011 23.5% (23%) of this waste was recycled, while 27.2% (26.5%) was energy recovered. This means the rest, 49.3% went to landfill. EPRO wants to contribute to more diversion of agriculture plastic waste from the European landfills.

In 2011 EPRO established a working group focusing on collection and recovery of plastic waste from the agriculture sector. This expert group exchanges knowledge and best practice among EPRO members and is also networking with other organisations. EPRO is also prepared to support the development of recycling schemes in countries where such systems do not exist. Last but not least this group now works on a project in order to develop the statistics in cooperation with APE- Europe and the Plastic Data Alliance.

Peter Sundt Secretary General

EPRO is the association of the national organisations charged with organising and promoting recycling and recovery of plastics throughout Europe. EPRO provides a unique forum for the leading specialists in plastics waste management from across Europe to exchange learning, develop integrated plastics packaging waste strategies and support technological development. EPRO has 17 members from 14 countries.