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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Generation and recycling of packaging waste / Generation and recycling of packaging waste (CSI 017/WST 002) - Assessment published Nov 2012

Generation and recycling of packaging waste (CSI 017/WST 002) - Assessment published Nov 2012

This content has been archived on 06 Nov 2013, reason: Content not regularly updated
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Generic metadata

Topics:

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

Tags:
disposal | recycling | packaging waste | waste | decoupling
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:
1997-2010
Geographic coverage:
Austria Belgium Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Ireland Italy Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland United Kingdom
 
Contents
 

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

Key messages

The generation of packaging waste per capita in the EU has followed a growing trend until 2006. Between 2006 and 2009, a stabilisation was observed, while in 2009 effects of the economic downturn were reflected by a decreased level of packaging waste. In 2010, amount of packaging waste generated became 157 kg/capita following a slight increase in the trend after the economic downturn. This is a clear indication that, neither decoupling waste generation from economic growth nor the EU policy objective of waste prevention has as yet been accomplished for this waste stream.

However, the recycling schemes appear to be quite effective for packaging waste. After 2000, recycling covered more than 50% of the generated packaging waste, a lot higher than the 25% target of the Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste for the year 2001. In 2008, recycling covered 61% of the generated waste, already exceeding the 2008 target of the Directive, which is 55%. The situation improved slightly in 2010 as the recycling rate of 63,2% was achieved at the EU-27 level.

Packaging waste generation per capita and by country

Note: The figure shows the packaging waste generation per capita and by country in the period from 1997 - 2010. The Croatian data reflects the collected amount (not the generated amount)

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Packaging waste generation per capita and by country

Note: The table shows the packaging waste generation per capita by country 1997 - 2010. The Croatian data reflects the collected amount (not the generated amount)

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Generation of packaging waste and GDP in the EU-15

Note: The figure shows the generation of packaging waste and GDP in the EU-15 countries from 1998-2010

Data source:
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Generation of packaging waste and GDP in the EU 27

Note: The figure shows the generation of packaging waste and GDP (Gross domestic product) in the EU27

Data source:
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Key assessment

There are large variations between Member States in the generation of packaging waste per capita, ranging from 195,6 kg/capita in Germany and 202,1 kg/capita in Luxembourg to 42,5 kg/capita in Bulgaria (2010) (fig 1. and fig 2.).The average packaging waste generation amount for the EU-27 was 153,1 kg/capita in 2009 and 157 kg/capita in 2010, after the period of 2005-2008 when it has remained fairly stable at a constant level of 160-164 kg/capita  (fig. 2).

However, there are clear differences between the EU-15 and newer Member States (EU-12) reflecting different levels of consumption of packaging. No EU-12 country has generation per capita rate exceeding that of a EU-15 country, except for Greece. The variations within EU-15 countries are hard to explain. One explanation could 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 is to be reported to the EU Commission.

Trends in the generation of packaging waste per capita vary between the countries (fig 2). While some countries (e.g. Italy and Portugal) experienced a relatively constant increase until 2008, others (e.g. France, Austria, Bulgaria and Slovakia) have been able to stabilise and even reverse the increase in generation. The trend is less clear for 2009-2010 and also in the data reported by the Denmark and Sweden due to a change in data reporting of packaging materials on stock at companies.

While there are significant year to year variations, the general trend in EU-15 shows that amounts of packaging were slowly rising except the drop in 2009 resulting from the economic downturn. Altogether, the packaging waste generation in the EU-15 saw slight relative decoupling from GDP (fig.3) between 1998 and 2007 growing by 11%, compared to a 19% growth in GDP (expressed in fixed price levels of year 2000) over the same period. However, the impacts of the recent economic downturn can already be observed on the data for 2008-2009: both the GDP and the amount of paper, plastic, metal and glass packaging waste have declined by around 5% between 2007 and 2009 in the EU-15, while both showed a 2% increase from 2009 to 2010.

Regarding the four main fractions of the packaging waste stream (glass, metals, paper & cardboard, plastics), their total generation and share of the total generation has changed over time, Figure 3 shows that with some fluctuations, the trend of generation of these materials follows the pattern of the total packaging waste generation per capita. However, the materials mainly responsible for the increase in the total generation are paper and plastic packaging wastes.

In 2009, the economic downturn decreased the GDP of EU-27 to a level which is still higher than the GDP level in 2005. At the same time, the amount of packaging waste generated has decreased by 4% (fig. 4) compared to 2005, while both the GDP and the amount of packaging waste per capita increased by 2% from 2009 to 2010. 

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

Recycling of packaging waste by country, 2008 and 2010

Note: The figure shows the recycle of packaging waste by country in 2008 and 2010

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Treatment of packaging waste in the EU-15

Note: The figure shows the treatment of packaging waste 1997-2010

Data source:
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Treatment of packaging waste in the EU-27

Note: The figure shows the treatment of packaging waste 2005-2010

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

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

Table 1: Targets of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive

 

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

The minimum target of 25 % recycling of all packaging materials was achieved by all EU-27 members in 2006. Furthermore, by 2008, 15 out of the 27 Member States had complied with the overall 55% minimum recycling targets of the packaging and packaging waste directive for 2008, and 5 additional Member State met this target by 2010 (fig. 5). The total recycling rate in the Member States in 2010 varied greatly, from 28,5 % in Malta to 84 % in Denmark.

The average EU-15 recycling rate for packaging waste has increased from 42 % in 1997 to 65,3 % in 2010, whereas the average EU-27 recycling rate has increased from 55% in 2005 to 63,2% in 2010 (fig. 6 and fig. 7). Disposal option for packaging waste treatment has been gradually decreasing and the option to incinerate has remained in a stable trend around 12-13 % since 2005.  

To achieve the Directive targets, several Member States have introduced producer responsibility and established packaging waste recycling schemes. In addition, some Member states have introduced economic instruments (e.g. taxes, deposit systems) and improved their existing collection and recycling infrastructure.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Jasmina Bogdanovic

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2012 2.5.3 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Comments

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