Collect and Recycle

UK falls in league rankings for packaging recycling

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In news sure to interest many of those firms receiving money for cardboard from Collect and Recycle (, the UK has dropped three places down the EU packaging recycling league table, from 14th in 2010 to 17th out of the EU’s 27 countries in 2011, recording a below average recycling rate of 60.8 per cent.

The most recent figures were published by Eurostat, and showed that the UK barely registered an improvement on the 60.7 per cent figure that it mustered for 2010. This left it shy of the EU average packaging recycling rate of 63.6 per cent in 2011, up from 63.3 per cent a year earlier.

This compares to the 80.2 per cent packaging recycling rate recorded by Belgium, which topped the 2011 table. It was followed by the 71.9 per cent and 71.8 per cent recorded by the Netherlands and Germany respectively, while the 41.2 per cent recycling rate of Poland and Malta’s 42.3 per cent left these two countries at the bottom of the list.

17th was also the UK’s ranking for packaging recovery, with a 67.1 per cent rate in 2011 representing a decrease from 2010’s 67.3 per cent figure. Topping the packaging recovery league table was Germany, which recovered or incinerated 97.4 per cent of its packaging waste, narrowly beating Belgium with 96.9 per cent and the 95.2 per cent recorded by the Netherlands. The EU’s average recovery rate was 77.3 per cent.

Senior market trader at the Environment Exchange, Ian Andrews, said that there would not have been sufficient drive to improve plastic and cardboard recycling rates as a result of flat targets at the time. He said that low PRN prices would have been another contributory factor.

Mr Andrews commented: “The figures will have improved since then. As far as the PRN system is concerned, during that period we had a hold on targets as they weren’t being increased.

“When we were going through that period we were in the grips of recession and the general policy decision made between governments was to ease the burden on businesses by not pushing up recycling rates. Essentially the PRN system provided no incentive because there was no additional demand.”

With MPs having agreed in Parliament in November last year to amend packaging waste regulations  enabling the introduction of higher plastic, aluminium and steel packaging recycling targets, Mr Andrews said that the 2012 and 2013 packaging recycling rates should be higher, reflecting increased incentives.

A plastic PRN could be bought on the spot market for an average price of £2.53 in 2010, increasing to £4.68 in 2011 and to £13.98 a year later. For 2013 so far, there has been a further rise, to an average of £47.

Keep reading the news page here at cardboard collections specialist Collect and Recycle (, for more information about the latest packaging recycling rates and the latest measures to increase them – as well to learn about all of the other important recent developments in UK recycling.

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