Trends in recycling

The plastics industry – comprising PlasticsEurope, EuPC, EuPR and EPRO – has published its 18 th report on trends in production, demand and recovery of plastics called the Compelling Facts about Plastics 2007. Recykling is one of the most important parts in this document.

The reporting of recycling performance in this report is done on a Member State level. It reflects the amount of material collected for recycling, whether this material later crosses borders within the EU, is sent overseas to countries such as China or India, or stays in its country of origin.

Within Europe there is much cross-border movement of material for recycling, which reflects the trade within the EU. For example the proportion of imported waste treated by recyclers in Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands is in the range of 3 5-45%.

Export of post-consumer plastic waste from EU27+NO/CH continued to increase to an estimated total of 0.65 million tonnes in 2 007 (up 3 0% over 2 006). This represents 13 % of all waste collected for recycling – which is comparable to other materials. Ensuring that recycling of exported waste takes place in certified and authorised facilities is of the utmost importance for the credibility of the EU as well as for consumer confidence.

The collection rate for mechanical recycling of postconsumer plastics waste increased 1 % over 2 006 to 20.1% in 2 007. This represents an increase of 0.5 million tonnes, giving an EU27+NO/CH total of 4.9 million tonnes. This increase is fuelled by higher polymer prices and improved collection and sorting technology. The recycling capacity of the European recycling industry is estimated to be still higher to enable all collected material to be treated in Europe.

A big part of this increase was achieved through the increase in packaging streams such as PET bottles, industrial packaging film and PVC products via the programme Vinyl 2 010. As there is still the potential to collect more from these streams across Member States, it is important to continue efforts to drive these streams towards their full potential.