Packaging sent to landfill plummets 43 per cent in 11 years

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Packaging, Packaging waste, European union, Eu

The amount of packaging sent to landfill by EU-15 members dropped by 43 per cent in just over a decade thanks to soaring recovery and recycling rates, said the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (Europen).

The packaging body said its analysis has show the volume of packaging waste going to ‘final disposal’ – sent to landfill or burned without energy recovery – in the EU15 states in 2008 was just over 17m tonnes compared to around 30m in 1998.

The findings are part of its report- Packaging and Packaging Waste Statistics in Europe 1998-2008.

Packaging growth decoupled from GDP increases

The figures show that shows that during the period in EU-15 “growth in packaging waste is clearly decoupling from growth in GDP”,​ said Europen as it hailed the success of the bloc’s waste strategy unveiled in 1994.

It concluded that despite demographic trends such as an ageing population and a rise in the number of smaller households triggering a rise in packaged goods, the amount of packaging brought to market rose by only 10 per cent and the quantity disposed of slumped by 43 per cent. Both figures exclude wood packaging.

In the UK, per capita consumption of packaging placed on the market actually remained static during the period at 175 kg. The amount in Denmark rose slightly from 158 kg to 165 kg; Netherlands 161 kg to 169 kg; Austria from 140 kg to 142 kg and France 194 kg to 200kg.

Developing economies in the EU saw greatest growth in per capita consumption, with Ireland’s jumping from 185 kg in 1998 to 233 kg in 2008 and Portugal rising from 101 kg to 168 kg

“The data supports our view that the 1994 Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste is clearly one of the most successful pieces of EU environmental legislation, something in which all participants can take pride,”​ said Europen managing director, Julian Carroll said. “This is particularly true for consumers who, across the EU, are increasingly accepting the sorting of packaging in their homes for recycling as a routine activity”.

Under the terms of the directive, the 12 established members of the EU 15 were tasked with reaching a 55 per cent recycling rate by 2008. All the nations hit this target with Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany all exceeding 70 per cent.

Of the other three members, Ireland and Portugal had reached the target, while Greece was recycling around 44 per cent of its material. Newer members have been given until 2011 or 2015 to hit the 55 per cent recycling rate.

Packaging blazing trail

Carroll said the success of packaging value chain was an example of best practice that other industries could follow.

“In the context of overall sustainability it is more and more evident that contrary to popular misconception, packaging should be regarded as part of the solution, not part of the problem and as a net contributor to achieving the broad sustainability goal of resource optimization and waste minimization,”​ said the Europen chief.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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