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Polyethylene recycling: waste policy scenario analysis for the EU-27.

Andreoni, V, Eder, P and Saveyn, HGM (2015) Polyethylene recycling: waste policy scenario analysis for the EU-27. Journal of Environmental Management, 158. pp. 103-110. ISSN 0301-4797


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This paper quantifies the main impacts that the adoption of the best recycling practices together with a reduction in the consumption of single-use plastic bags and the adoption of a kerbside collection system could have on the 27 Member States of the EU. The main consequences in terms of employment, waste management costs, emissions and energy use have been quantified for two scenarios of polyethylene (PE) waste production and recycling. That is to say, a “business as usual scenario”, where the 2012 performances of PE waste production and recycling are extrapolated to 2020, is compared to a “best practice scenario”, where the best available recycling practices are modelled together with the possible adoption of the amended Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive related to the consumption of single-use plastic bags and the implementation of a kerbside collection system. The main results show that socio-economic and environmental benefits can be generated across the EU by the implementation of the best practice scenario. In particular, estimations show a possible reduction of 4.4 million tonnes of non-recycled PE waste, together with a reduction of around €90 million in waste management costs in 2020 for the best practice scenario versus the business as usual scenario. An additional 35,622 jobs are also expected to be created. In environmental terms, the quantity of CO2 equivalent emissions could be reduced by around 1.46 million tonnes and the net energy requirements are expected to increase by 16.5 million GJ as a consequence of the reduction in the energy produced from waste. The main analysis provided in this paper, together with the data and the model presented, can be useful to identify the possible costs and benefits that the implementation of PE waste policies and Directives could generate for the EU.

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