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07. November 2022

“Plastics – The Facts 2022” – Databases on plastics production and recycling

The new report “Plastics – The Facts 2022” has now been published. It presents a detailed analysis of the latest data on the production, demand, processing, and waste management of plastics in Europe.

The report is published annually by the industry association Plastics Europe and its 2022 edition refers to data from 2021 for the EU member states plus Norway, Switzerland and the UK. ERPO, the European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organisations, in which RIGK participates, also actively contributed to data collection.  

The report states that in 2021, the amount of plastics produced worldwide increased by 4% to 390 million tonnes, and the European share of this amounted to approximately 57 million tonnes. The rising energy costs and supply chain issues as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine are having a direct impact on the production and recycling of plastics. The good news is that 5.5 million tonnes were used in Europe in what the report calls the circular and climate-neutral plastics industry, in which plastics are produced, recycled and used in a sustainable manner. This 5.5 million tonnes of plastics that were reused in new products represents a share of 10%. This is a 20% increase compared to 2018. 

The largest share of plastics produced in Europe (39%) is used in packaging. The figures for recycled plastics by industry show that it is also possible to increase the amount of plastics that are recycled in this respect, although the rates have been steadily increasing since 2018. 25% of plastics from the agricultural sector are recycled. In the packaging sector, the figure is only 8.5%, although no distinction is made here between consumer and industrial products. 

Due to the delay in data collection, the recycling figures are shown for 2020. According to these figures, 35% of post-consumer plastic waste was sent for recycling in 2020. Separated collections have a decisive influence on the recycling rate of plastics in general. In 2020, 29.5 million tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste was collected in the EU27+3. However, recycling rates for plastic waste are 13 times higher for separated collection compared to those of mixed waste collection systems. 

For plastic packaging, the differences are even more pronounced. Recycling rates for plastic waste from packaging are 80 times higher for separated collection systems than in mixed systems. 

With its recovery systems, RIGK has always focused on highly strict separation when collecting packaging from industry, commerce and agriculture. Production that takes the design-for-recycling idea into account and manufactures packaging from monomaterials wherever possible enables even higher recycling rates for packaging from these sectors. This is an important contribution to achieving the EU’s Net Zero targets for 2050 and a comprehensive circular economy. 

The report “Plastics – The Facts 2022” from Plastics Europe can also be found here.

More information:
Jan Bauer 
Managing Director
Phone: +49 611 308600-16