Using waste as a resource is key to becoming more resource efficient. At the end of their service life, plastics are still too valuable to be simply thrown away. They can be recycled back into new products or chemical raw materials or, where this is not possible or sustainable, used for energy recovery as a substitute for virgin fossil fuels. The objective of PlasticsEurope is to achieve “zero plastics to landfill” and therefore 100% recovery of plastic waste.

Thanks to increasing landfill restrictions put in place by European member-states and to continuous efforts of the whole value-chain to put adequate systems in place to recover plastic products at the end of their lives, quantities of plastics waste sent to landfills have decreased by 44% between 2006 and 2018, ie the equivalent of 5,7 Mt saved resources. However, in 2018, more than 7,2 Mt of plastic waste (of which 3,3 Mt plastic packaging), were still sent to landfills and require appropriate regulatory framework (further landfill restrictions, separate collection instructions) and more investments in sorting and recycling capacities to be used instead as a valuable resource.

Plastics recycling and recovery in Europe

recycling-and-energy.pngIn Europe, while nine Member States, as well as Norway and Switzerland, landfill less than 10% of their plastic waste, eight other Member States still landfill more than 50%. The latest annual monitoring of plastics waste, recycling and recovery performed on behalf of PlasticsEurope and the European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organisations (EPRO) revealed the following key facts for EU-28 countries plus Norway and Switzerland for the year 2018:

  • Collected post-consumer waste reached ~29 million tonnes

  • Recovery reached 75%

  • Recycling rate (32,5%) significantly exceeded the landfilling rate (24,9%)

  • Plastics packaging has the highest recycling and recovery rates 

PlasticsEurope and its partners are committed to continue the regular monitoring of this data in order to provide all stakeholders with reliable information on plastics waste as well as, recycling and recovery rates.

For more information see: Plastics - the Facts.

PlasticsEurope’s contribution to the debate

Since the early 1990s, European plastics manufacturers have been committed and prepared to contribute to the enhancement of plastics waste management schemes. To exploit the full potential of this precious resource, we call for:

  • A landfill ban of all recyclable and recoverable post-consumer waste by 2025.
  • The establishment of recovery-oriented collection schemes, in particular, the separate collection of all packaging. 
  • Investments in modern sorting infrastructure and improved recycling and recovery processes.

We pursue our objective to achieve zero plastics to landfill through:

  • Specific know-how and expertise compiled via studies and thorough evaluations of practices in high-performing member states.  
  • An open dialogue with all relevant stakeholders.
  • Quantitative analysis of the management of plastic waste generated in Europe and of the use recycled plastics by European converters. Available to the broader public.


Read more about PlasticsEurope’s vision for Waste collection, pre-treatment and sorting.

Read more about PlasticsEurope’s perspective on Recycling and energy recovery

Contact us for more information

Contact us for more information about the benefits of plastics and the activities of PlasticsEurope.