Between 2009 and 2019, the volume of plastic packaging waste generated per inhabitant increased by 24% (+6.7 kg) in the EU. The recycling volume of plastic packaging waste increased sharply over the same period, by 50% (+4.7 kg).
Despite this improvement, the amount of plastic packaging that wasn’t recycled increased by 2.0 kg per inhabitant since 2009 due to the greater increase in the absolute value of plastic packaging waste generated.
In 2019, an estimated 41% of plastic packaging waste was recycled in the EU. Nine EU Member States recycled more than half of the plastic packaging waste generated: Lithuania (70%), Czechia (61%), Bulgaria (59%, 2018 data), the Netherlands (57%), Sweden and Slovakia (both 53%), Spain (52%), Cyprus (51%) and Slovenia (50%).
In contrast, less than one-third of plastic packaging waste was recycled in Malta (11%, 2018 data), France (27%), Ireland (28%), Austria (31%), Poland (32%) and Hungary (33%). Latvia was not much better on 36% putting a credible question mark over claims that this is a particularly "green" country.
As previously reported by LSM, new packaging recycling laws are due to come into force next year.
In 2019, packaging waste of all materials generated was estimated at 177.4 kg per inhabitant in the EU. This quantity varied between 74.0 kg per inhabitant in Croatia and 228.0 kg per inhabitant in Ireland, while the amounts of recycled packaging waste ranged from 36.2 kg per inhabitant in Croatia to 155.2 kg per inhabitant in Luxembourg.
Some of the data does show Latvia doing slightly better when compared to its European peers.
The graph below shows the share of recovery options for all packaging waste in 2019. The major form of recovery in all countries is recycling. In some countries, energy recovery from packaging waste contributed significantly to the overall recovery rate. In 2019, the highest energy recovery from packaging waste among the EU Member States was recorded in Finland (46.6 %). In some countries, there was no energy recovery from packaging waste. Other forms of recovery contributed only a minor share.
The next graph shows the recycling rate of all packaging waste for the EU Member States and the EEA/EFTA countries in 2019. The recycling covers material recycling and other forms of recycling (e.g. organic recycling). The target of 55 % recycled packaging waste was met by all Member States, except Croatia (48.9 %), Hungary (46.7 %) and Malta (35.7 %; 2018 data).
Source: Eurostat (env_waspacr)
This final graph shows the recovery rate of all packaging waste in 2019. All EU Member States and EEA/EFTA countries should have achieved the target of 60 %. Recovery includes energy recovery from packaging waste, other forms of recovery and total recycling. The recovery rates were below the target of 60 % in Poland (59.9 %), Hungary (56.3 %), Croatia (48.9 %) and Malta (35.7 %; 2018 data).