Europa ziet historische toename in verpakkingsafval
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Europe witnesses a historic surge in packaging waste

  • 24 October 2023

In a world driven by the convenience of online shopping and our love for coffee on-the-go, we're drowning in packaging more than ever. 2021 saw the EU produce a staggering 188.7 kg of packaging waste for every resident, marking the highest surge in a decade—a jump of 10.8 kg from just the previous year! To provide perspective, this is akin to each individual in the EU getting burdened with around 32 kg more packaging waste than they did a decade ago.

This monumental accumulation amounted to 84 million tonnes, with nearly half of it being paper and cardboard. Plastic, our modern world's nemesis, stood at 19%. Meanwhile, glass made up 18.5%, wood followed at 17.1%, and metal rounded off the list at 4.9%. Digging deeper into the plastic conundrum, each EU citizen was found responsible for 35.9 kg of plastic packaging waste in 2021. Encouragingly, 14.2 kg of this was recycled.

In a silver lining, there's evidence of increasing awareness and efforts in waste management. From 2020 to 2021, plastic packaging waste rose by 4%, but recycling saw a more substantial jump of 9.5%. Moreover, after a dip in 2020, the plastic packaging recycling rate climbed to 39.7% in 2021. Countries like Slovenia, Belgium, and the Netherlands led the charge, recycling nearly half of their plastic packaging waste, showcasing hope amidst this crisis.

All these illuminating details emerged from the data released by Eurostat recently. However, with the diverse range in recycling rates—from Slovenia's commendable 50% to Malta's alarming 20.5%—the path ahead remains challenging. The question looms: Can we strike a balance between convenience and conservation?

Source: Europese Commissie