Indicator Assessment

Generation and recycling of packaging waste

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-24-en
  Also known as: CSI 017 , WST 002
Published 29 Nov 2005 Last modified 11 May 2021
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There is a general increase in per capita quantities of packaging being put on the market. This is not in line with the primary objective of the Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste, which aims at preventing the production of packaging waste.

However, the EU target to recycle 25% of packaging waste in 2001 has been significantly exceeded. In 2002 the recycling rate in EU15 was 54 percent.

Required information is not filled in: Information about the starting date of the publishing schedule is missing.

Packaging waste generation per capita and by country

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Environment and the World Bank

Generation of packaging waste and GDP in the EU-15

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Environment and Eurostat

Only the UK, Denmark and Austria have reduced their per capita generation of packaging waste since 1997; in the remaining countries, the quantities have increased. However the 1997 data are less certain than those
for later years, due to first-year problems of newly established data collection systems, which in turn may influence the apparent trends.

Between 1997 and 2002 the growth in packaging waste generation in the EU-15 almost followed the growth in GDP: generation increased by 10 % and GDP by 12.6 %.

There are large variations between Member States in the use of packaging per capita, ranging from 87 kg/capita in Finland to 217 kg/capita in Ireland
(2002). The average 2002 figure for the EU-15 was 172 kg/capita. This variation can be partly explained by the fact that Member States have differing
definitions of packaging and understanding of which types of packaging waste need to be reported to DG Environment. This illustrates the need to harmonise the methodology for reporting data in accordance with the directive on packaging and packaging waste.

Recycling of packaging waste by country, 2002

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Environment

Packaging waste generation per capita and by country

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Environment and the World Bank

Targets of the packaging and packaging waste directive

Note: N/A

Data source:

Data provenance info is missing.

Treatment of packaging waste

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Environment

The target of 25 % recycling of all packaging materials in 2001 was achieved by a good margin in virtually all countries. Seven Member States already comply with the overall recycling target for 2008, when not taking the 'new' material, wood, into account. The total EU-15 recycling rate increased from 45 % in 1997 to 54 % in 2002.

As with consumption of packaging per capita, the total recycling rate in Member States in 2002 varied greatly, from 33 % in Greece to 74 % in Germany.

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

Supporting information

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.


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.


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 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.


(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.


(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.



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

Other info

DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 017
  • WST 002
EEA Contact Info


Geographic coverage



Filed under:
Filed under: waste, csi
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