Sharp fall in EU plastics waste landfilling

Absolute fall in dumping seen despite consumption increase, mainly due to more incineration

Plastic waste landfilling in western Europe fell by 9% from 1997 to 1998, according to the Association for Plastic Manufacturers in Europe (Apme). The absolute fall occurred despite a 5% increase in the amount of plastics consumed over the same period, the latest for which statistics are available.

In its latest annual survey of plastics consumption and recovery, Apme says the fall in landfilling is mainly due to a nearly one-third increase in incineration with energy recovery following four years of stagnation. About 20% of plastic wastes were incinerated in 1998, up from 15% in 1997. Plastics recycling increased only marginally over the period, from 8.6% to 9.2% of wastes.

Apme is one of several industry organisations arguing that the EU should amend the 1994 packaging directive to require less landfilling of plastics packaging wastes rather than an increase in required recycling rates (ENDS Daily 11 November 1999). Landfilling of this type of waste fell by 11.5% over the year, it reports.

Detailing the progress of individual countries towards compliance with the packaging directive, Apme notes little progress since it warned last year that most EU members would not meet targets of 15% for recycling and 50% for recovery due to be reached by the end of the year (ENDS Daily 8 February 1999) (see table below). Apme ranks the countries in order of waste recovered by recycling or energy recovery, though the EU definition of waste recovery differs slightly.

European plastics packaging waste recovery in 1998
(%)           Total     Recycling  Energy recovery
--------------------------------------------------
Switzerland    91           13            78
Denmark        85           10            75
Germany        80           53*           27
Austria        72           35            37
Netherlands    71           14            57
Sweden         71           16            55
Belgium        63           20            43
France         40           12            28
Norway         39           14            25
Italy          22           11            11
Finland        22           8.8           13
UK             19           7.9           11
Spain          13           6.8           6.4
Portugal       4.8          4.8           0
Ireland        3.4          3.4           0
Greece         1.5          1.5           0
--------------------------------------------------
Totals:
EU             38           17            21
W. Europe      39           17            22
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* includes feedstock recycling;  source:  Apme
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Follow Up:
Apme, tel: +32 2 672 8259, and press release.

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