Plastics industry reports increased recycling

Some EU countries said to want new target to recycle 25% of plastic packaging waste

An EU legislative target to recycle a minimum of 15% of plastic packaging waste by 2001 is close to being achieved, judging by the latest annual figures released by the Association of Plastic Manufacturers in Europe (APME).

The recycling rate for plastics packaging in the EU rose from 14% in 1995 to 14.7% in 1996 as a proportion of the total plastics packaging waste generated, while the proportion of the waste incinerated - with energy recovery - dropped from 18% to 16%. The total amount of plastic packaging waste generated increased.

Under a 1994 EU directive on packaging, member states are required to recover at least 50% and recycle at least 25% of all packaging waste by mid-2001. A minimum of 15% recycling for each packaging material must also be achieved.

EU member states have already begun considering the next set of targets under the directive although the European Commission is not expected to produce proposals before the end of the year. According to industry sources, some member states have already indicated that they want the target raised to a minimum 25% recycling rate for each packaging material. Other governments are reported to be opposed to setting new targets until data on the recovery and recycling of packaging waste are improved.

A prominent packaging industry spokesman last month called on governments to postpone discussion of post-2000 targets under the packaging directive until better data are available (ENDS Daily 26 March). Julian Carroll, director of the Brussels-based packaging organisation, Europen, said the packaging directive was in "danger of failing" because of a lack of understanding of the industry.

APME's figures also show that total plastics waste arisings rose 5% from 16.05 million tonnes in 1995 to 16.87 million tonnes in 1996. While the material recycling rate rose for the third year running, from 8.% to 9.%, the proportion incinerated with energy recovery fell slightly from 17% to 15% and the overall recovery rate dropped from 26% to 24.5%. Austria recorded the highest rate for mechanical recycling of 20%, followed by Germany with 15%.

Feedstock recycling of plastics, where materials are broken down chemically and thermally into their constituent molecules and reprocessed, increased by 150% from 99,000 tonnes to 251,000 tonnes.

Follow Up:
Association of Plastic Manufacturers in Europe, tel: +32 2 672 8259.

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