50% of plastic packaging to be recycled by 2025: European Council

According to new rules adopted for waste management and recycling by the European Council, all member states must recycle 50% plastic packaging by 2025     

By Swati Singh Sambyal
Published: Wednesday 23 May 2018
50% of plastic packaging to be recycled by 2025. Credit: Classroom Camera/Flickr

In a bold step to move towards a circular economy, the European Council recently adopted a stringent waste package for its member states, a plan which sets new rules for waste management and establishes legally binding targets for recycling.

According to the targets, 50 per cent of plastic packaging will have to be recycled in the EU and 55 per cent by 2030. Currently, only 30 per cent of plastic packaging is recycled in the EU. The new rules come after a gap of four years when a revision of targets was proposed in 2014.

Most of the new targets are higher than the current estimates and are bold in its aim to gradually remove landfills from landscapes.

For instance, by 2030, all waste that can be recycled or recovered, especially municipal waste shall not be accepted in a landfill.

Over the past two decades, many member states have gradually improved their waste management. The amount of municipal waste sent to landfills decreased from 64 per cent in 1995 to 24 per cent in 2016, and recycling increased to 46 per cent in the same period.

Yet, challenges and differences remain between EU countries. In 2016, ten member states still dumped over 50 per cent of their household waste in landfills and six of them incinerated 40 per cent or more.

Other targets

The reuse and recycling of municipal waste will increase from current 35 per cent to 55 per cent by 2025, 60 per cent by 2030 and 65 per cent by 2035.

By 2025, textiles and hazardous waste will be separately collected from households. In addition, by 2023, biodegradable waste will be either collected separately or recycled at source (e. g. home composting). Separate collection already exists for paper and cardboard, glass, metals and plastic.

The legislation defines specific recycling targets for packaging (see below).


By 2025

By 2030

All packaging









Ferrous metals









Paper and cardboard




The legislation also sets minimum requirements for existing extended producer responsibility schemes. Producers under the schemes must take responsibility for the management of the waste stage of their products, and will be required to contribute financially, said the council in a release. Mandatory extended producer responsibility schemes for all packaging have also been introduced.


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