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Polyolefins: ‘100% diversion from landfill possible’

Europe – PlasticsEurope, the association representing European plastics producers, has unveiled the results of its first-ever study on polyolefins recycling and recovery rates in rigid applications. Analysing recycling and recovery figures for France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK, the study focuses on bottles, other rigid packaging, automotive and appliance and electronic sectors, and reveals that 57% of rigid polyolefins were recovered in 2009. Out of these, one million tonnes was recycled – but more can be achieved, says the association.

‘With an appropriate combination of recycling and energy recovery, 100% diversion of polyolefins from landfill is possible,’ says Jan-Erik Johansson, Programme Director for Resource Efficiency at PlasticsEurope. ‘Equally, I believe that supportive regulatory frameworks and improvements in identification and sorting techniques can certainly help the value chain to achieve this important objective.’

The study shows that national recycling performances differ widely from one country to another, reaching 32% in Germany but less than 10% in Poland. ‘A great potential exists to increase eco-efficient recycling of polyolefins in many European countries, and successful knowledge transfer within Europe holds the key,’ Mr Johansson notes. According to PlasticsEurope, other key factors in achieving high recycling and recovery rates include: restrictions on landfilling; the development of broader collection schemes for non-bottle rigid packaging; optimised sorting systems; and efficient energy recovery capacities to complement quality recycling. Polyolefins (PP, HDPE, LDPE and LLDPE) account for 48% of Western Europe’s annual consumption of plastics.

Polyolefins are used in a broad range of applications from packaging, automotive and electrical appliances to agriculture and building/construction.

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