Study shows that mixed waste sorting is key to meeting circular economy objectives

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Research commissioned by Reloop and Zero Waste Europe has found that applying sorting systems to mixed waste prior to thermal treatment and landfilling could boost meeting recycling targets.

Undertaken by Eunomia Research and Consulting, the study found that sorting mixed waste streams saved on greenhouse gas emissions, but also led to more recyclate being recovered.

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It was carried out in Germany, Belgium and Sweden as they have high recycling performance, and it concluded that mixed waste sorting would be required to ensure recycling targets are met as part of the EU’s wider climate and circular economy goals.

The introduction of mandatory mixed waste sorting in the EU would contribute between 2.9% and 8.2% to municipal waste targets depending on the ambition of how much can be captured from mixed waste sorting, and also when aligned with separate collection improvements.

Eunomia Research & Consulting technical director Andy Grant said: “The EU is already leading the way on the circular economy transition and the addition of mixed waste sorting systems alongside separate collection systems and improved packaging recyclability will continue to support this by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving recycling rates.”