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Recycling is any useful application with which waste materials are reprocessed into raw materials, materials and products with the same or a different purpose. To realise this, the packaging materials must usually first be collected and sorted. There are different forms of recycling, with mechanical recycling being the most common.

Mechanical recycling is using mechanical techniques to recycle packaging materials after use. For plastics, it is also possible to use chemical recycling: a process during which the plastics are reduced to monomers, i.e. chemical building blocks, which are then used to produce new materials.

Biodegradable materials can also be turned into compost with the help of a composting process. Composting organic waste can be seen as a form of recycling, with the raw material compost as its end product.

The methods of incinerating waste streams with energy recovery and reprocessing waste into materials that are used as fuel or filler material are not classified as recycling.


The waste stage


The use of packaging materials is subject of European legislation. On 20 December 1994, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union introduced the Directive 94/62/EG (hereinafter: Directive) for packaging materials and packaging waste. This Directive was subsequently revised on 22 May 2018. The goal of this Directive is to limit the use of packaging materials and stimulate recycling, reuse and other useful applications for packaging waste.

All EU Member States are required to implement the Directive in their own national legislation. Every Member State has its own way of doing so. Packforward started to give an overview of the way the different Member States implemented the Directive, but the overview is not completed yet. You can find more information for the Netherlands, information about other countries will follow soon.

Despite the efforts made with regard to collecting, sorting and recycling packaging waste, new raw materials will have to flow into the packaging chain in order to safeguard the quality of the material and compensate for the loss of material in the chain. For a growing number of the new raw materials, steps are being taken towards a circular economy, e.g. by making use of biobased materials.




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