Recycling stats do not paper over EU’s waste problem

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Recycling stats do not paper over EU’s waste problem

A study has said that Europe recycles 71.7% of its paper and cardboard but landfill and incineration rates for other types of waste remain high across the continent. The European Recovered Paper Council (ERPC) announced yesterday (28 August) that European paper recycling rates rose some 30% over the past 20 years, to 71.7% in 2012. This made paper the most recycled material in Europe, EurActiv wrote.

Paper fibre was reused on average 3.5 times a year in Europe compared to 2.4 times in the rest of the world in 2012, say ERPC statistics. But while the trend appears good for paper, Europe’s potential to recycle many other materials may be being wasted.

Ariadna Rodrigo, resource use campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe (FOEE), said in an email: "The EU has achieved high recycling rates for paper in recent years which shows that recycling is perfectly possible. But other high-value materials which could be recycled are being burned or sent to landfill”.

A recent study by the environmental NGO showed that Europe still landfilled and incinerated 60% of its overall waste. Whereas there were 13 countries with paper recycling rates that regularly exceeded 70%, there were significant discrepancies across the European Union. But the number of European countries with a recycling rate below 60% also decreased, the ERPC said.

The ERPC is involved in EU-funded projects to increase paper recycling especially in Central Europe, for example by improving collection systems.

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