Polyolefins: “100% diversion from landfill is possible”, says PlasticsEurope

PlasticsEurope, the association representing European plastics producers, has just unveiled the results of the first-ever study on polyolefins recycling and recovery rates in rigid applications in Europe. The study analyses recycling and recovery figures for France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK. It focuses on bottles, other rigid packaging, automotive and appliance and electronic sectors, and reveals that 57% of rigid polyolefins were recovered in 2009. Out of these, one million tonnes of waste were recycled and the association insists that this is only a glimpse of what can be achieved.

"With an appropriate combination of recycling and energy recovery, 100% diversion of Polyolefins from landfill is possible.  Equally, I believe that supportive regulatory frameworks and improvements in identification and sorting techniques can certainly help the value chain to achieve this important objective”, said Jan-Erik Johansson, Programme Director for resource efficiency at PlasticsEurope.

The study shows that national recycling performances differ widely from one country to another; reaching for instance 32% in Germany and less than 10% in Poland. "A great potential exists to increase eco-efficient recycling of polyolefins in many European countries, and successful knowledge transfer within Europe holds the key”, Johansson noted.

The study, carried out by market research consultancy Consultic, is an important step for the industry as it demonstrates that polyolefin articles are indeed recyclable and should be actively included in suitable collection schemes.

According to PlasticsEurope, key factors to achieve high recycling and recovery rates include: restrictions on landfilling; the development of broader collection schemes for non-bottle rigid packaging and optimized sorting systems, coupled with efficient energy recovery capacities to complement quality recycling.

Polyolefins (PP, HDPE, LDPE and LLDPE) account for 48% of Western Europe’s annual consumption of plastics.  Polyolefins are used in a broad range of applications ranging from packaging, automotive and electrical appliances to agriculture and building and construction.

Related information
The recycling and Recovery of Polyolefins Waste in Europe