Plastic waste and recycling: France among EU’s ‘poor performers’

With a recycling rate of 24.2% in 2018, France is a poor performer and compared to 2016, it had only increased by two percentage points, with an energy recovery rate that reached 43.3% and a 32.5% landfilling rate.

France’s poor recycling rate for plastics is dragging down the European average, according to industry figures. EURACTIV’s partner le Journal de l’Environnement reports.

The recycling rate for plastics in Europe has seen a slight increase of 1.4% in 2016-2018, according to figures published by industry association PlasticsEurope.

In total, the recycling rate for plastics reached 32.5% in 2018 across the EU, a slight increase compared to 2016.

But France has been dragging down the EU average, with a 24.2% recycling rate in 2018, industry figures show.

And despite the slight EU-wide increase, the overall recycling rate remains far off the energy recovery rate, which stands at 42.6% of plastics waste (up 0.9% over the period).

Eight countries in the lead

On the positive side, eight European countries stand out from the pack, with results above the EU average.

In Spain, the recycling rate is 42%, while Germany and Sweden each boast a 39% rate. The Czech Republic and Denmark tally behind with 37%, Estonia with 36%, Luxembourg with 35%, and the Netherlands with 34%.

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France lags far behind

With a recycling rate of 24.2% in 2018, France is a poor performer. Compared to 2016, it only increased its recycling rate by two percentage points, with an energy recovery rate that reached 43.3% and a landfilling rate of 32.5%.

Although France’s circular economy law lays out an objective of reaching 100% recycled plastic by 2025, such a target remains purely theoretical.

In total, 80% of the waste collected in Europe in 2018 has been treated on the continent, according to PlasticsEurope.

The construction sector remains the largest consumer of recycled plastics in Europe (46% of tonnage), far ahead of the packaging sector (24%) and agriculture (13%).

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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