Government inspectors have told companies that it is “unacceptable” to take three years to meet targets for recycling cans and small plastic bottles and that they will face fines if they do not do it more quickly.
Packaging recycling lobby group Afvalfonds Verpakkingen was given an official warning in September about the slow progress. In 2022, just 68% of plastic bottles were handed in for recycling, but the target was 90%. The figure was even lower, below 60%, for small bottles.
Figures for cans have not yet been published but experts say are likely to be even worse.
Earlier this month the Afvalfonds came up with an improvement plan. In particular, it aims to expand the number of collection points where bottles can be handed in. Some 1,800 will be added in schools, airports, train stations and amusement parks, and a further 800 will be installed in supermarkets.
An additional 2,800 collection points will be added as counter services in offices and small supermarkets and canteens.
Dairy and fresh juice products don’t yet fall under the deposit system, and they account for some 16% of all plastic bottles sold. The Afvalfonds now plan to ask the dairy and juice producers to shift to deposits voluntarily and some have already done so.
The inspectors welcomed the plans outlined by industry to boost recycling but said the 2026 deadline was “not acceptable”. “The first signs the target would be missed were apparent to the Afvalfonds in 2022,” the inspectors said. “We realise implementing plans takes time, but the end of 2026 has not been properly substantiated.”
The Netherlands introduced deposits of 15 cents on small bottles in July 2021. Cans followed this April.
The Afvalfonds said in a reaction that a dose of realism is needed and that changing consumer behaviour takes time. In addition, it said the Netherlands is taking a much tougher line than other EU countries. In Norway and Denmark it took eight years to reach a 90% target, the body pointed out.
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