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European countries boosting packaging waste management, finds EUROPEN

By Joe Whitworth , 21-Jan-2013
Last updated the 21-Jan-2013 at 16:06 GMT

Higher recovery and recycling rates has seen a drop in the amount of used packaging sent to landfill or burned without energy recovery, according to EU data.

A European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN) analysis of EU data on packaging waste found that the amount being put on the market is increasing but what is sent for final disposal is decreasing.

The EUROSTAT data tracks reports from Member States to the European Commission from 1998-2010.

It showed that the consumption trends for glass packaging fell by 7% and the demand for metal packaging slipped 12.2%, plastic packaging grew by 31.3% and paper and board packaging increased by 12.5%.

Material breakdown

Glass packaging consumption in EU-12 fell by 7% between 1998 and 2010, with an annual reduction of 1.4%.

The highest rates of increase have been in Luxembourg (57%), Portugal (38%), Ireland (28%) and the UK (23%) with Denmark (-59%) and Germany (-27%) registering the largest decline.

This trend is attributed to refillable glass bottles in the beverage market being largely replaced by non-refillable PET.

The EU 15 includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and UK.

The EU 12 from 1 January 2007 consists of Poland, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Estonia, Slovakia, Hungary, Malta, Bulgaria and Romania being included. 

Metal packaging consumption in the EU-15 fell by 12.2% between 1998 and 2010 with an annual average tonnage reduction of 1.1%.

Consumption in EU-12 rose by 0.5% between 2005 and 2010.

Plastics packaging consumption in EU-15 rose by 31.3% between the reporting period.

The highest rates of increase were reported by Luxembourg (more than double), Germany (up 67%), and Belgium (45%).  

The tonnage of paper and board packaging consumed in EU-15 rose by 12.5% between 1998 and 2010.

The highest rates of increase were reported by Portugal (47%), Spain (33%), Germany (up 27%) and Belgium (up 20%).

Only the Netherlands and Sweden (both down 13%), Denmark (12%) the UK (5%) and Austria (1%) registered a decrease.

Landfill or burnt

The amount of non-wood packaging sent for final disposal in EU-15 fell by 52.1% between 1998 and 2010, an average annual reduction of 6%.

The amount of non-wood packaging reported to have been sent for final disposal in EU-12 fell by 30.5% between 2005 and 2010, an average annual reduction of 7%.

Virginia Janssens, acting managing director of EUROPEN, said the results reflect how the supply chain has used less material to get products to the consumer in good condition.

“In the context of overall sustainability, packaging should be regarded as part of the solution, and as a net contributor to achieving the broad sustainability goals of resource optimisation and waste minimisation”.

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