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Generation and recycling of packaging waste (CSI 017/WST 002) - Assessment published Mar 2010

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 13 Feb 2009 Published 17 Mar 2010 Last modified 11 Mar 2014, 01:48 PM
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Contents
 

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


Key policy question: Are we preventing the generation of packaging waste?

Key messages

The generation of packaging waste per capita in EU is growing, although there are signs of this increase slowing down. This slowing down rate could be attributed to the change of packaging materials, as the largest increase occurs for paper and plastics. The EU policy objective (Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste) for packaging waste prevention does not seem to be applied yet. In 2008 packaging waste was reduced but it is difficult to attribute this change either to effective waste prevention (decoupling of waste from GDP) or to the reduction of GDP (no decoupling).

 

The recycling schemes appear to be quite effective for this waste stream. After 2000, recycling covers more than 50% of the treatment, a lot higher than the 25% target for 2001. In 2008, recycling covered 61%, already exceeding the 55% for 2008. Figure 5 shows, however, that in many countries there is still room for improvement.

 

Packaging waste generation per capita and by country

Note: Packaging waste

Data source:

Packaging waste 2007, 1000 tonnes: EUROSTAT, Environmental Data Centre on waste Tables pursuant to Commission Decision 2005/270/EC: DG Environment

Downloads and more info

Packaging waste generation per capita and by country

Note: Packaging waste

Data source:

Packaging waste 2007, 1000 tonnes: EUROSTAT, Environmental Data Centre on waste Tables pursuant to Commission Decision 2005/270/EC: DG Environment

Downloads and more info

Generation of packaging waste and GDP in the EU-15

Note: Packaging waste

Data source:

Packaging waste 2007, 1000 tonnes: EUROSTAT, Environmental Data Centre on waste 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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Generation of packaging waste and GDP in the EU 27

Note: packaging waste

Data source:

Packaging waste 2007, 1000 tonnes: EUROSTAT, Environmental Data Centre on waste. Tables pursuant to Commission Decision 2005/270/EC: DG Environment Structural indicator. Real GDP growth rate - Growth rate of GDP volume - percentage change on previous year: EUROSTAT

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

There are large variations between Member States in the use of packaging per capita, ranging from 245 kg/capita in Ireland to 94 kg/capita in Greece and 41 kg/capita in Bulgaria (2007). The average 2007 figure for the EU-27 was 164 kg/capita. There are clear differences between the EU-15 and newer Member States reflecting different levels of consumption of packaging. The variations within EU-15 countries are harder to explain. One explanation may be different market shares of reusable packaging; another different consumption and production patterns. 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.

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 2007 growing by 17.2%, compared to a nearly 23% 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.

The four main fractions of the packaging waste stream (glass, metals, paper & cardboard, plastics), meanwhile, have 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; 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. The trend is less clear in the data reported from Scandinavian countries due to the above mentioned changes in data reporting.

Specific policy question: Do we manage the generated waste (packaging) in a sustainable way?

Recycling of packaging waste by country, 2007

Note: Recycle of packaging waste

Data source:

Packaging waste 2007, 1000 tonnes: EUROSTAT, Environmental Data Centre on waste

Downloads and more info

Treatment of packaging waste in the EU-15

Note: packaging waste

Data source:

EUROSTAT, Environmental Data Centre on waste, Packaging waste 2007, 1000 tonnes

DG Environment, Tables pursuant to Commission Decision 2005/270/EC

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/packaging/data.htm

Downloads and more info

Treatment of packaging waste in the EU-27

Note: packaging waste

Data source:

Packaging waste 2007, 1000 tonnes: EUROSTAT, Environmental Data Centre on waste

Tables pursuant to Commission Decision 2005/270/EC: DG Environment, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/packaging/data.html

Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

Recycling is a key element in the management of packaging waste.

The minimum target of 25 % recycling of all packaging materials was achieved by all EU-27 members in 2006. Furthermore, 15 of the 27 Member States had already complied with the overall minimum recycling target for 2008 by 2007.

The total EU-15 recycling rate increased from 45 % in 1997 to 60 % in 2007. The EU-12 recycling rate increased from 34% in 2005 to 47% in 2007. As with consumption of packaging per capita, the total recycling rate in the Member States in 2007 varied greatly, from 26 % in Cyprus to 80 % in Belgium.

To achieve the targets, several Member States have introduced producer responsibility and established packaging recycling schemes or introduced economic instruments (e.g. taxes, deposit systems). Other countries have improved their existing collection and recycling system.

Table 1: Targets of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive

G 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

Data sources

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

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Generic metadata

Topics:

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

Tags:
soer2010 | packaging waste | disposal | recycling | csi | waste
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 017
  • WST 002
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1997-2007
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Jasmina Bogdanovic

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Comments

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