Record recycling rates and use of recycled materials in the EU

Record recycling rates and use of recycled materials in the EU

March 8, 2019
Press Release: Eurostat

The European Commission has revealed that the recycling rates of plastic packaging have almost doubled since 2005

The recycling rates and use of recycled materials in the European Union (EU) are steadily growing, according to an announcement from Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU. Overall, the EU recycled around 55% of all waste excluding major mineral waste in 2016 (compared with 53% in 2010). The rate for recovering construction and demolition waste reached 89% (2016), the recycling rate of packaging waste exceeded 67% (2016, compared with 64% in 2010) while the rate of plastic packaging was over 42% (2016, compared with 24% in 2005). The recycling rate for municipal waste stood at 46% (2017, compared with 35% in 2007) and for the waste of electrical and electronic equipment such as computers, televisions, fridges and mobile phones, which include valuable materials which can be recovered (e-waste) in the EU reached 41% (2016, compared with 28% in 2010).

In spite of these high recycling rates, on average only 12% of material resources used in the EU in 2016 came from recycled products and recovered materials – thus saving extraction of primary raw materials. This indicator, called circular material use rate, measures the contribution of recycled materials to overall demand. The indicator is lower than recycling rates, which measure the share of waste that is recycled, because some types of materials cannot be recycled – e.g. fossil fuels burned to produce energy or biomass consumed as food or fodder.

A circular economy aims to maintain the value of products, materials and resources for as long as possible by returning them into the product cycle at the end of their use, while minimizing the generation of waste. On 4 March 2019, the EC adopted the Report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan. The monitoring framework shows the progress in four areas of the circular economy: production and consumption; waste management; secondary raw materials; and competitiveness and innovation. It comprises of 10 indicators published by Eurostat.

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