For the first time, more plastic waste has been recycled than landfilled, according to the latest figures from the new "Post-consumer Plastic Waste Management in European Countries” [1]report commissioned by PlasticsEurope and developed in collaboration with EPRO. The report shows that in 2016, more than 27 million tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste were collected through official waste schemes, an increase of 5% since 2014. 

At European level, including Norway and Switzerland, the data shows that from those 27 million tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste, 41.6% were recovered through energy-from-waste, 31.1% recycled and 27.3% ended up in landfill. This leads to a total of 72.7% recovered in 2016, compared to 69.2% in 2014.  

Over the last ten years, plastic waste recycling has increased by almost 80% in Europe (EU28, plus Norway and Switzerland). From 2006 to 2016 the volumes of post-consumer plastic waste grew less than 10%, whilst recycling increased by 79% and landfill decreased by 43%. The situation however varies significantly among European countries, since some countries recover almost 100% of the collected post-consumer plastic waste, and others hardly reach 30%. This leaves to over 9 million tonnes of plastic waste still being landfilled.  

More specifically, for plastic packaging waste the new figures show that at EU28+2 level, over a ten-year period, the level of recycling has increased by 74% whilst landfilling has decreased by 53%, leading to an EU overall recycling rate of more than 40% for this type of waste, compared to 39.5% in 2014.  

"Although this is positive news and shows a positive evolution for plastics recycling and energy recovery, we regret that post-consumer plastic waste still ends up in landfill” said Karl-H. Foerster, Executive Director of PlasticsEurope. "For a truly circular and resource efficient society, it is essential to put in place proper waste management systems in Europe to ensure the recovery of all valuable resources”, he concluded.  

More information on the treatment of post-consumer plastic waste will be published in the annual report "Plastics: The Facts”.  PlasticsEurope will publish the report in the upcoming weeks.    


[1] "Post-consumer Plastic Waste Management in the EU28 + Norway and Switzerland in 2016”, Conversio Market & Strategy GmbH