Recycling rates hit record highs in Europe

Recycling rates in the European Union have reached 55 per cent, with the rates of plastic packaging recycling nearly doubling since 2005.

Recycling rates and the use of recycled materials in the EU are steadily growing. According to the latest figures from eurostat, the EU recycled around 55 per cent of all waste excluding major mineral waste in 2016.

Of the individual waste streams, the rate for recovering construction and demolition waste reached 89 per cent. The recycling rate of packaging waste reached 67 per cent, while the rate of plastic packaging was over 42 per cent (compared with 24 per cent in 2005). Municipal waste was recycled at a rate of 46 per cent in 2017 (compared with 35 per cent ten years earlier), while e-waste recycling rates reached 41 per cent (compared with 28 per cent in 2010).

Despite the high recycling rates, eurostat found that on average only 12 per cent of material resources used in the EU in 2016 came from recycled products and recovered materials.

While not all materials can be recycled, returning materials into the product cycle at the end of their use is a key goal of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan. On Monday, the European Commission adopted a report on the plan, showing that progress has been made in four areas of the circular economy: production and consumption, waste management, secondary raw materials, and competitiveness and innovation.

“Circular economy is key to putting our economy onto a sustainable path and delivering on the global Sustainable Development Goals,” First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in a statement. “This report shows that Europe is leading the way as a trail blazer for the rest of the world. At the same time more remains to be done to ensure that we increase our prosperity within the limits of our planet and close the loop so that there is no waste of our precious resources.”

Image credit: Lukasz Dziegel via Pexels

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