Press Release
25 Oct 2013

Realistic EU targets key to continued progress in packaging recycling and recovery,new EU data shows

Realistic EU targets key to continued progress in packaging recycling and recovery, new EU data shows

23 October 2013, Brussels – The overall recycling rate in the EU-27 increased slightly to 63,6% in 2011, from 63,3% in 2010, according to new data published by Eurostat. With an average recycling rate of 50,6% in the Member States that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, tailored efforts are still needed to help some of them meet current EU targets.

The Eurostat data is encouraging and clearly demonstrates the packaging supply chain’s achievements as, overall, the EU packaging recycling and recovery targets are being met or exceeded. However, it also underlines the need for full implementation and enforcement of EU waste legislation in all Member States to help close the existing gaps between Member States,” stated Virginia Janssens, Managing Director of EUROPEN. She added, “The data shows once again that packaging waste management is increasingly resource efficient: there was a 1.9% increase in packaging placed on the market in 2011 compared to 2010 but a 2.7% decline in packaging waste sent for final disposal over the same period.

The differences across Member States in definitions used at national level for recycling and recovery, calculation methodologies, implementation and enforcement of EU legislation, waste management infrastructure and consumption rates of packaged goods are a real obstacle to all Member States meeting the same existing and future targets. The starting points of Member States’ recycling and recovery rates varies widely, making a single target and timetable for all member states difficult to achieve. This challenge was a key theme for discussion at EUROPEN’s 20th Anniversary event held on 9 October.

On that occasion, Louis Lindenberg, Global Packaging Sustainability Director, Unilever commented, “EUROPEN members believe that realistic recycling and recovery targets should take into account different Member State specificities and be combined with a requirement for the separate collection of post-consumer packaging in the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD). The increased collection of post-consumer packaging  across Europe is an important step towards Europe’s transition to a resource efficient economy. It is also imperative to harmonise national rules for calculating and reporting recycling and recovery rates.

New EU targets should reflect the impact of potential harmonisation of calculation methodologies and definitions on the existing recycling and recovery rates,” stated Ms Janssens. She added, “The focus should also be on improving extended producer responsibility schemes (EPR) at national level. EUROPEN calls for legal provisions in the PPWD that ensure a level playing field for the operation of competing EPR schemes, such as a harmonised definition of EPR, minimum requirements for EPR schemes to ensure transparency and efficiency and clear roles and responsibilities for Member States and economic operators.

EUROPEN’s in-depth analysis of the 2011 Packaging and Packaging Waste Statistics will be available soon.

[1] Primary and secondary packaging generated by households, away-from-home and at closed surroundings (e.g. small businesses, bars, restaurants, public events, schools) insofar as the type of packaging/volumes consumed are similar to households.

Read EUROPEN’s position paper on the EU waste management targets here
Read EUROPEN’s position paper on EPR for post-consumer packaging here
Read EUROPEN’s guiding principles on EPR for post-consumer packaging here

For all enquiries, please contact:

Virginia Janssens
Managing Director
T: +32 2 736 36 00

Notes for Editors:

EUROPEN – The European Organization for Packaging and the Environment - is an industry association representing the interests of the packaging supply chain in Europe on topics related to packaging and the environment, without favouring any specific packaging material or system.