Cost-Efficiency of Packaging Recovery Systems: The Case of France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom

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Courtesy of European Commission, Environment DG

 Context and Objective of the Study

In the last years, the European Community has launched a number of initiatives aimed at increasing recycling and recovery of certain waste streams. Among these, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) had to be implemented into national law by 30 June 1996. In spite of delays in several countries, legislation is now in place in all Member States except Greece.

The objective of this study is to carry out a cost-efficiency analysis of recycling in four countries, including the comparison with alternative treatment routes (incineration with energy recovery, disposal). The study aims at making transparent the underlying political choices, the resulting cost structures and the relative benefits achieved by recycling. The countries chosen were France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Due to the differences in costs and benefits, the analysis distinguishes between the various materials (glass, plastics, paper and board, tinplate, aluminium) and sources (household and non-household packaging). It focuses on household packaging but also gives an order of magnitude of costs and cost-efficiency of the various treatment routes for non-household packaging.

The study aims at assessing the situation of packaging recycling in a country at a point in time (1997 for recycling rates, 1998 for costs) without separating the effect of the implementation of the Directive on recycling. Therefore it also includes recycling which was carried out before the Directive was implemented.

The term “packaging recovery systems” has been interpreted in a wider sense (i.e. not focusing only on particular compliance schemes such as DSD, Eco-Emballages, SVM-Pact, Valpak, Biffpack… and the PRN system) but on the way both recycling and recovery are organised and financed in the four countries.


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