European countries recycled 33.6% of all its plastics packaging waste in 2011, surpassing the EU's minimum requirement of 22.5%, according to a new report.
The report `Plastics – The Facts 2012' says European Union members, as well as Norway and Sweden, recovered 66.8% of plastic packaging waste last year. Some 5,246m tonnes (33.6%) was recycled and 33.2% went to energy recovery processes.
EPRO, which was one of the partners on the report, says Europe's recycling rate has improve, rising from 32.6% in 2010, demonstrating that ”national recycling schemes in Europe, based on extended producer responsibility, manage well”.
All countries except for Malta and Cyprus exceeded the EU's minimum targets and 18 achieved rates of more than 30%. Netherlands came top, with a rate of 48.4%, followed by Czech Republic, Sweden, Estonia and Germany.
There was also a marked difference in terms of sending waste to landfill. Nine countries sent only 10% of waste to landfill but nine countries, including the UK, sent more than 50%.
Households generate 63% of post-consumer plastic packaging waste and the remaining 37% comes from the trade/ industry segment.
EPRO says moving forward the industry will have to face some problems, one of which is how to sort mixed streams of plastics. The association notes that sorting methods are different across the continent, with households in Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden separating plastics waste, while homes in Austria and the UK lumping it together.
The region also needs to tackle the problem of agricultural waste, says EPRO. Last year the agriculture sector generated 1.315m tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste and only 23% of this was recycled. The rest - 49.3% - went to landfill.