Plastics Waste Management

Originally, plastics recycling grew alongside the plastics industry, with companies initially concentrating on the reprocessing of production and the processing of scraps. But over the years the recycling of post-consumer plastics has gradually taken off, with important growth being recorded in the last decade. This industry, therefore, plays a significant and essential role in today’s move towards a sustainable society.

Post-consumer plastic waste generation in Europe in 2010 rose, mainly as a result of a stronger economy than that of 2009. An increase of plastic waste collection was noted within all plastics applications.

2010 brought an improved economic performance as well as recycling at lower disposal rates.

There has been a significant drop in landfilling observed, despite an increase in plastic packaging waste. However, the landfill rate still remains at high levels showing the necessity for further efforts to make landfilling an exception.

While the contribution of plastic packaging towards recycling is still at a very high level, there is also a considerable contribution from the construction and agriculture sectors. It appears that the potential trend for recovery and recycling will continue. Growing environmental awareness will contribute to higher collection as well as recycling quantities. Additionally, larger quantities of plastic waste are expected to be collected from the construction and agricultural sectors. High prices of energy will contribute to the use of plastic waste as an alternative fuel.

Post-consumer waste is subdivided into waste streams from private households and commerce (plastics waste collected by or on behalf of municipalities of households and commerce) as well as generated by economic activities such as manufacturing industry, construction, agriculture). Substantial applications of plastics are grouped into several groups: Packaging (Household Packaging and I&T packaging); Building & Constructions; Electrical/Electronics WEEE; Agriculture; Automotive; Housewares, Leisure & Sports and Other.

Term recycling refers to any recovery operation through which waste materials are reprocessed into products, materials or substances for their original or other purposes. The term recycling comprises different processes.

Latest news

The installed capacity for recycling flexible polyethylene (PE: PE-LD, PE-LLD PE-MD & PE-HD) has been increasing significantly over the last years.


The European plastics recycling industry welcomes and fully supports the Plastics Strategy published by the European Commission.