A successful waste strategy tends to be the result of a combination of different instruments. This is the key finding of a new report from ACR+ Waste Observatory analysing 135 waste collection systems for paper and packaging waste across Europe. The report also gives interesting insight on common trends and success factors of high performances.

Brussels, Belgium – The report, published by ACR+ in the framework of its Waste Observatory, provides an overview of the different organisations and an analysis of the local performances of 135 waste collection systems across Europe. Entitled “Analysis of 135 paper and packaging waste collection systems”, it highlights the great diversity of collection systems, with many different sorting systems and combination of collection modes (door-to-door, bring bank, combined, etc.).

Common trends and specificities

The report notes common trends: the use of bring system for glass packaging is quite widespread, and the “PMC” system (source-separating glass and paper/cardboard, and co-mingling the other packaging) is the most widespread across the different Member States. In addition, glass and paper/cardboard are more commonly source-separated, while plastic, metal, and composite packaging (“PMC”) are more commonly co-mingled.

When it comes to specific context, it appears that door-to-door systems are more widespread in waste collection systems with high gross domestic product (GDP), while bring bank systems are a bit more common in average and low-GDP areas. Besides, the implementation of the different collection modes varies among the systems studied, with very different collection frequencies for door-to-door systems, and significant differences regarding the density of collection points among bring bank systems.

Success factors of high performances

The report finds that territories with a very high tourism intensity generates considerably more paper and packaging waste, while low-GDP territories tend to generate less paper and cardboard waste. In terms of sorting performances, waste collection systems with very high density of population and areas with very low GDP generally present lower recycling performances for PPW.

The key to a successful waste strategy, as shown by the analyses, tends to lie in the combination of various instruments: source separation of glass and paper/cardboard, collection mode, density and proximity of bring banks, higher collection frequency for PPW, and PAYT. Interestingly, there is on average no significant differences of performances between systems mainly relying on bring banks and door-to-door collection systems.

A call for further analysis

This work is only a first step in understanding success factors of high performances. Additional elements such as communication, the organisation of pre-collection, or the degree of incentivisation of the different PAYT systems, are still to be documented in order to get a full picture.

This report allows confirming what are the successful instruments for PPW collection, based on a rather large dataset on territories encompassing about 10% of the European population. It also shows that there is still insufficient information on the quality and final destination of sorted materials, which prevents us from having a broader picture of waste collection systems within the circular economy.”, commented Jean-Benoît Bel, author of the report.

The report analyses data collected in the framework of the H2020 COLLECTORS project that aims at identifying good practices to improve the quantity of sorted municipal waste leading to high quality recycling. It contributes to the ACR+ Waste Observatory, whose objective is to allow consistent comparisons among local and regional authorities, in order to provide benchmark on municipal waste management, and identify effective waste strategies enabling quality recycling.

The full report is available on ACR+ website.

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