More recycling in EuropeIn recent years, the issue of marine pollution with plastic products and so-called micro-plastics has attracted major attention from the media and the European population. It has become obvious that this unfortunate development has been caused by dysfunctional waste disposal systems and human misconduct.
Despite the fact that Europe does not range among the largest polluters, the European plastics industry has been making every effort to set up suitable collection systems and to enhance the existing systematic recycling of plastic production waste with viable strategies for re-using plastic post-consumer waste. As a result of legal directives and a variety of efforts and initiatives, recycling rates in Europe (i.e. EU28 plus Switzerland and Norway) have been rising steadily: in 2014, the rate was 69%, about 10 percentage points up from the rate for 2011 and even 21 points up on the recycling rate in 2006. European countries with landfill bans record particularly high recycling rates: while these nations - Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Luxemburg, Denmark, Belgium and Norway - reuse more than 96% of their plastic waste, five European countries still only manage to recycle less than 30% of their plastic waste.
In 2014, the most important recycling methods in Europe were distributed as follows: 39% went into energy recovery and 30% into material recycling, while about 31% of plastics waste went into landfill. Ten years previously, only 26% were used for energy recovery, 17% were recycled and 57% were deposited on landfill sites. In all European countries, the rate for packaging recycling has risen to more than 20%, half of these countries recycle more than 70% and some even 99% of plastics packaging.