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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Recycling rates for packaging waste fractions and municipal waste / Recycling rates for packaging waste fractions and municipal waste (SCP 016) - Assessment DRAFT created Jan 2013

Recycling rates for packaging waste fractions and municipal waste (SCP 016) - Assessment DRAFT created Jan 2013

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Generic metadata

Topics:

Waste and material resources Waste and material resources (Primary topic)

DPSIR: Response
Typology: Performance indicator (Type B - Does it matter?)
Indicator codes
  • SCP 016
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1995-2010
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: Is Europe moving towards a recycling society?

Key messages

Recycling rates have generally increased steadily in Europe for most packaging waste fractions and total municipal waste since the mid-1990s. Total packaging waste recycling rates increased in the EU-15 from 47% to 65% between 1998 and 2010. Recycling rates for total packaging waste for the EU-27 as a whole had reached similar levels (63%) by 2010. Recycling rates of municipal waste in the EU-27 more than doubled between 1995 and 2007, but have stagnated since then. Increasing recycling rates are a sign that Europe is making progress towards a recycling society, but for a number of packaging waste fractions as well as for municipal waste, there is still room for improvement.

Recycling rates in the EU-15 for municipal waste, total packaging waste and key packaging waste fractions

Note: Time series for the recycling rates (recycling quantities divided by generated quantities) of key packaging waste fractions, total packaging and total municipal waste (EU-15)

Data source:
  • Packaging waste provided by Eurostat - Statistical Office of the European Union (ESTAT)
Downloads and more info

Recycling rates for key materials and for total municipal and packaging waste, EU-27

Note: Time series for the recycling rates (recycling quantities divided by generated quantities)of key packaging materials, total packaging and total municipal waste (EU-27)

Data source:
  • Packaging waste provided by Eurostat - Statistical Office of the European Union (ESTAT)
Downloads and more info

Key assessment

The term recycling society was introduced by the Thematic Strategy on the Prevention and Recycling of Waste (2005), which aimed to help Europe towards an economy that seeks to avoid waste and uses waste as a resource.  The aim of a recycling society is one where the need for virgin materials is significantly reduced through prevention of wastes and recovery of materials from wastes to be used in the production of new products.

In the EU-15, recycling rates of total packaging waste increased from 47% to 65%, 1998-2010 with almost all individual packaging waste fractions contributing to this increase. Metal packaging recycling rates showed the greatest increase and by 2010, 74% of this waste was recycled. Recycling rates remain highest for paper and cardboard packaging (85%) and lowest for plastic packaging (33%).  However, paper and cardboard packaging recycling rates saw no increase between 2009 and 2010.

Results for the EU-27 since 2004 show similar positive trends, with an increase in total packaging waste recycling from 54% to 63% by 2010.

Improvements in recycling of packaging waste have been influenced to a large degree by the specific recycling targets set in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC).

Recycling rates for municipal waste have also seen steady increases in the EU, increasing from 18 to 42% in the EU-15 between1995 and 2007, and at slightly lower rates from 15% to 38% in the EU-27 as a whole over the same period. Recycling rates have stagnated since 2007, however.

Municipal waste management is regulated by the revised Waste Framework Directive (WFD, 2008/98/EC), which includes targets for recycling for at least paper, metal, plastic and glass. However, the targets set in the Directive will not have had an influence on the recycling rates recorded up to 2007. The stagnation in the recycling rates of municipal waste between 2007 and 2010 would suggest that any policies implemented in Member States to meet the targets set in the 2008 version of the WFD have yet to have an effect. In addition to the WFD, the targets in the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) to divert biodegradable municipal waste from landfill can be seen as a driver for recycling of municipal waste.

Increasing recycling rates for municipal waste seen prior to 2007 may rather have been encouraged by provisions of the previous WFD, the Landfill Directive and the Packaging Directive since municipal waste contains packaging waste covered by that Directive.

The steady increases in recycling rates for packaging and municipal waste indicates that Europe may be moving towards a recycling society and reducing the demand for virgin materials. However, there is also considerable room for improvement in some packaging fractions such as plastics and wood packaging where recycling rates lie at only 33 and 38% respectively in the EU-27.

Moreover, trends in packaging waste recycling should not be used as representative of total recycling rates in Europe and therefore as the only indicator of whether the EU is moving towards a recycling system. For a number of material types packaging waste makes up a relatively low proportion of total wastes for that material. For instance the total amount of recycled metal packaging waste in EU-27 at 3.3 million tonnes in 2008 represented only 5% of the total quantity of metals recycled in EU-27 in the same year (see indicator SCP015).

Therefore, instruments aimed at increased recycling in waste streams other than packaging waste are needed to push Europe closer towards a recycling society. The revised WFD is one of those instruments.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Almut Reichel

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2012 2.5.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Document Actions

Comments

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100