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Generation and recycling of packaging waste

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 28 Jun 2007 Published 23 Jan 2008 Last modified 03 Sep 2015, 07:17 PM
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Indicator codes: CSI 017 , WST 002
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Key messages

There is a general increase in per capita quantities of packaging being put on the market. This development is seen both in the old and in the new EU Member States. This is not in line with the objective of the Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste, which aims at reducing the production of packaging waste.

However, the EU target to recycle 25% of packaging waste in 2001 has been met and significantly exceeded. In 2006 the average recycling rate over the EU-27 reached 57 %, already exceeding the 2008 target of 55%. Differences in performance of individual countries suggest further potential for improvement, however.

Are we preventing the generation of packaging waste?

Generation of packaging waste and GDP in the EU-15

Note: N/A

Data source:

Packaging waste 2006, 1000 tonnes: EUROSTAT, Environmental Data Centre on waste Tables pursuant to Commission Decision 2005/270/EC: DG Environment : Tables pursuant to Commission Decision 2005/270/EC: DG Environment Real GDP growth rate - Growth rate of GDP volume - percentage change on previous year: EUROSTAT

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Packaging waste generation per capita and by country

Note: Empty spaces means that data is not available

Data source:

DG Environment and the World Bank

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Packaging waste generation per capita and by country

Note: Empty cells means no data available

Data source:

DG Environment and the World Bank

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While there are significant year to year variations, the general trend in EU-15 shows that amounts of packaging are still rising. Packaging waste generation in the EU-15 saw slight decoupling from GDP (fig.3) between 1998 and 2006 growing by 15.5%, compared to a nearly 20% real growth in GDP over the same period. However, all the decoupling occurred in the first years of that period; since 2001 growth in packaging waste has actually been more rapid than growth in GDP.

Generation of four main fractions of the packaging waste stream (glass, metals, paper & cardboard, plastics), meanwhile, has seen more sustained relative decoupling over the whole period, growing at half the rate of GDP .The apparent rapid growth in total packaging between 2001 and 2003 may have had methodological causes - especially concerning the coverage of wood packaging. In 1997 only 6 countries reported wood packaging, with other countries following suit gradually in later years. Since 2003 most EU-15 countries have provided complete sets of data.

Trends in packaging waste generation per capita vary between the countries (fig 2). While some countries (e.g. Germany and Portugal) show a relatively constant increase, others (e.g. France,  Austria) have been able to stabilise and even reverse the increases in generation - albeit often at a high level. The trend is less clear in the data reported from Scandinavian countries due to the above mentioned changes in data reporting in that period, e.g. the reporting changes can be seen as sharp increases.

There are large variations between Member States in the use of packaging per capita, ranging from 241 kg/capita in Ireland to 95 kg/capita in Greece and even 56 kg/capita in Bulgaria and Slovakia (2006). The average 2006 figure for the EU-27 was 165 kg/capita. There are clear differences between EU-15 and New Member States reflecting different levels of consumption of packaging. The variations within EU-15 countries are harder to explain, however they also seem to reflect differences in production and consumption patterns. One example may be different market shares of reusable packaging. It is also possible that some Member States may have uneven coverage of data collection or slightly differing definitions of packaging and understanding of which types of packaging waste need to be reported to DG Environment.

Do we manage the generated waste (packaging) in a sustainable way?

Recycling of packaging waste by country, 2004

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Environment

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Treatment of packaging waste

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Environment

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Recycling of packaging waste by country, 2002

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Environment

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Treatment of packaging waste

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Environment

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The minimum target of 25 % recycling of all packaging materials in 2001 was achieved by a good margin in virtually all EU-15 countries. By 2006, 13 of the 27 Member States had already complied with the overall minimum recycling target for 2008.

The total EU-15 recycling rate increased from 45 % in 1997 to 59 % in 2006. The EU-12 recycling rate increased from 34% in 2005 to 40% in 2006. As with consumption of packaging per capita, the total recycling rate in the Member States in 2006 varied greatly, from 25 % in Cyprus to 79 % in Belgium.

To achieve the targets, several Member States have introduced producer responsibility and established packaging recycling schemes. Other countries have improved their existing collection and recycling system.

Table 1: Targets of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive

By weight Targets in 94/62/EC Targets in 2004/12/EC
Overall recovery target min. 50 %, max. 65 % min. 60 %
Overall recycling target min. 25 %, max. 45 % min. 55 %, max.80 %
Year to achieve targets 30 June 2001 31 December 2008

Note: Greece, Ireland, Portugal and the EU-12 member states have individual derogations to meet the new targets. Depending on country, the targets will have to be reached 3 to 7 years later.

Source: Official Journal L 365 , 31/12/1994 P. 0010 - 0023 and Official Journal L 047 , 18/02/2004 P. 0026 - 0032

 

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

Total packaging used in EU Member States in kg per capita.

Recycling of packaging waste as a share of packaging used in EU Member States. The amount of packaging used is expected to equal the amount of packaging waste generated because of its short lifetime.

Units

kg per capita, percentage


Policy context and targets

Context description

6th Community Environment Action Programme

  • Better resource efficiency and resource and waste management to bring about more sustainable production and consumption patterns, thereby decoupling the use of resources and the generation of waste from the rate of economic growth and aiming to ensure that the consumption of renewable and non-renewable resources does not exceed the carrying capacity of the environment.
  • Achieving a significant overall reduction in the volumes of waste generated through waste prevention initiatives, better resource efficiency and a shift towards more sustainable production and consumption patterns
  • A significant reduction in the quantity of waste going to disposal and the volumes of hazardous waste produced while avoiding an increase of emissions to air, water and soil;
  • Encouraging reuse, and for wastes that are still generated: Preference should be given to recovery and especially to recycling.

Commission Communication COM(2005) 666 "Taking sustainable use of resources forward: A Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste"

This strategy sets out guidelines for European Union (EU) action and describes the ways in which waste management can be improved.

  • Reducing the negative impact on the environment that is caused by waste throughout its life-span, from production to disposal, via recycling. This approach means that every item of waste is seen not only as a source of pollution to be reduced, but also as a potential resource to be exploited.
  • The objectives preceding the adoption of this strategy still apply, namely limiting waste, and promoting the re-use, recycling and recovery of waste. These objectives are integrated into the approach based on environmental impact and on the life-cycle of resources.

Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC)

This Directive establishes a legal framework for the treatment of waste within the Community. It aims at protecting the environment and human health through the prevention of the harmful effects of waste generation and waste management.

  • Prime importance is to specify basic notions such as recovery and disposal, so as to better organise waste management activities, since the generation of waste is increasing within the European Union.
  • Reinforcing measures to be taken with regard to prevention as well as the reduction of the impacts of waste generation and waste management on the environment. Finally, the recovery of waste should be encouraged so as to preserve natural resources.

Directive 2004/12 on packaging and packaging waste

  • Establishes targets for recycling and recovery of selected packaging materials.

Targets

Table 1: Targets of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive

By weightTargets in 94/62/ECtargets in 2004/12/EC 

Overall recovery target

min. 50 %, max. 65 %

min. 60 %

Overall recycling target

min. 25 %, max. 45 %

min. 55 %, max.80 %

Year to achieve targets

30 June 2001

31 December 2008

Note: Greece, Ireland, Portugal and the New Member States have individual derogations to meet the new targets. Depending on country, the targets will have to be reached 3 to 7 years later.

Source: Official Journal L 365 , 31/12/1994 P. 0010 - 0023 and Official Journal L 047 , 18/02/2004 P. 0026 - 0032

Related policy documents

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

The graph of quantities of packaging waste generated is derived by dividing the amount of packaging used in the country by the country's population for the year in question.

Formula:

(Total packaging waste generation (kg) / Population) = Packaging waste generation per capita

 

The graph of recycling of packaging waste is derived by dividing the quantity of packaging waste recycled by the total quantity of packaging waste generated and expressing it as a percentage.

Formula:

(Recycling of packaging waste in tonnes (year x)) * 100 /

Total packaging waste generation in tonnes (year x)

 = Recycling rate for packaging waste (%)

 

Methodology for gap filling

No data gap filling is required

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

The Commission Decision of 3 February 1997 establishes the formats, which Member States are to use in the annual reporting on the Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste. However, the decision does not define methods to estimate the quantities of packaging put on the market or to calculate the recovery and recycling rates in more detail to ensure data comparability.

Data sets uncertainty

Due to the absence of harmonised methodology, national data on packaging waste are not always comparable. Some countries include all packaging waste in the figure on total packaging waste generation while other countries only include the total for the four obligatory packaging waste streams; glass, metal, plastic, wood and paper and board.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

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

Tags:
waste | csi
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 017
  • WST 002
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Jasmina Bogdanovic

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

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