The latest Packaging and Packaging Waste Statistics report from EUROPEN shows that 64 per cent of packaging was recycled by the EU-27 in 2011.
In an in-depth report covering the period from 1998 to 2011, EUROPEN showed that packaging recycling was easily exceeding the current 55 per cent target set by the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD).
EUROPEN managing director Virginia Janssens wrote in the foreword to the report: “One of the key challenges in Europe is to bridge the gap between the newer and older Member States in terms of waste management performances. EUROPEN therefore welcomes full implementation and enforcement of EU waste legislation across Europe, and a tailored approach in setting achievable and realistic targets for all packaging materials in the revised PPWD, which takes into account current packaging material recycling performance and the Member States’ varying waste management capabilities.
“A separate regulatory approach for packaging remains essential to ensure that packaging, and post-consumer packaging in particular, is collected separately to meet existing and future recycling and recovery rates across the EU.
“In order to ensure that recycling rates continue to increase, a revised PPWD should also contain binding minimum requirements for producer responsibility for packaging waste, as well as harmonise definitions in EU waste legislation.”
Among the results found in the statistics, EUROPEN found that packaging production and packaging waste disposal have been decoupled from economic growth.
Despite a 13.9 per cent increase in household consumption expenditure on food and non-alcoholic drinks between 2000 and 2011, an ageing population and a trend throughout Europe toward smaller households, all of which lead to the purchase of a greater number of packaged goods, the amount of non-wood packaging placed on the market in the EU-15 rose by just 7.1 per cent. While the amount of non-wood packaging waste disposed of actually fell by 49.5 per cent.
In EU-27, just under 18.2 million tonnes of packaging, including wood, were sent for final disposal in 2011. This compares to 89 million tonnes of food waste in 2010.
Although there hasn’t been much reduction in the amount of packaging placed onto the market by the major European economies, the UK actually performs well against similar sized economies in terms of the per capita consumption of packaging placed onto the market.
While the UK had a per capita consumption of packaging of 177kg in 2011, Germany had 202kg, France 197kg, Italy 192kg, Netherlands 165kg and Spain 155kg.
The stats also show that UK consumption of glass packaging has increased. In 1998, 2.2 million tonnes of glass packaging was placed on the market, but by 2011 this had increased to 2.74 million tonnes.
Plastic packaging had also increased from 1.7 million tonnes in 1998 to 2.516 million tonnes in 2011.
Both glass and packaging figures were the highest recorded in 2011, according to the EUROPEN statistics.
However, both metal and paper packaging saw falls.
Metal packaging on the UK market in 1998 stood at 844,000 tonnes, but this had fallen to 810,000 tonnes by 2011 (although it had increased from 800,000 tonnes in 2010).
Paper packaging had fallen from 4 million tonnes in 1998 to 3.818 million tonnes in 2011, but this had also increased from 3.7888 million tonnes in 2010.
Huge progress has been made by the UK in reducing non-wood packaging sent for final disposal as waste from 5,775 million tonnes in 1998 to 3.172 million tonnes in 2011.
However, the UK remains way ahead of other nations in this, with Italy next worst sending 2.074 million tonnes to final waste disposal.
The report also shows the progress made in the UK in its overall packaging recycling rate, rising from 28 per cent in 1998 to 61 per cent in 2011, although this was down from the peak seen in both 2008 and 2009 of 62 per cent.
However, the UK is below the average of 64 per cent mentioned above.