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Building sector gathers recycling momentum

Europe – Around 20% of plastic waste generated by the building and construction (B&C) industry was recycled in 2010, according to a study by trade association PlasticsEurope covering the entire EU as well as Norway and Switzerland. Given that the rate in 2009 was 15.8%, PlasticsEurope views the latest finding as ‘a significant increase’.

However, the fact remains that while the construction sector is the second largest user of plastics across Europe, accounting for 20% of total production, it is responsible for only 5.5% of volumes generated for recycling. This is mainly due to the low levels of use in the past in combination with the long life-span of the materials in question, the study points out.

Another issue surrounds the huge variation in different countries’ waste-handling performance: Germany and the Netherlands, for example, recycled approximately 25% of their construction plastics in 2010 whereas Ireland, Bulgaria and Greece were stuck on zero. The study reveals that the overall recovery rate across the 29 countries, including both recycling and energy recovery, amounted to 56.2% in 2010, with the remainder heading to landfill; the recovery rate in 2009 was 51.9%.

According to Peter Kurth, President of the European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services (FEAD), cohesion funds for waste projects are a vital element in further boosting recycling performance. He noted earlier this month that only 16% of funding available for the 2007-2013 period had been allocated by the end of 2009.

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