The Dutch are recycling more plastic, but the quality is going down

Recycling plastic in Amstelveen. Photo:

The Dutch are collecting more plastic for recycling than ever but the quality is going down which makes the plastic more difficult to reuse, according to a report for the transport and environment ministry and quoted by broadcaster NOS.

In 2007, just 500 grammes of plastic, metal and used drinks packaging was collected for recycling per head of the population and that has now gone up to more than 7 kilos.

However, the report states, ‘the quality has gone down making it more difficult to actually recycle the material’ and that, in turn, is boosting the cost, the broadcaster said.

Hester Klein Lankhorst of the sustainable packaging institute KDV told NOS that the focus of recycling campaigns needs to change. ‘We now need to look more at the quality of what is being recycled,’ she said.

In addition, results would be improved if there were fewer different recycling schemes. ‘International research shows you get the best results if you use the same system all over the country, like we do with glass recycling,’ she said.

Food residue

Some argue that food and drink residue in packing makes it more difficult to recycle and others say too many different sorts of plastics are being lumped together.

Robbert van Duijn of the environmental lobby Recycling Network, for example, favours collecting bottles and other easily recycled plastics but including the rest in non-recyclable waste bins.

However, Olaf Prinsen, of the waste collectors association NVRD says pressure should be put on food companies to make sure their packaging can be recycled in the first place.

The government hopes to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste per person to just 30 kilos a year.

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