Plastic bottle recycling target won’t be hit until 2026

The target of recycling 90% of all plastic drink bottles will not be met until 2026, according to industry recycling body Afvalfonds Verpakkingen. 

The agency works on behalf of packaging producers and users and has been under fire from government inspectors for failing to meet the target. It was issued a formal warning in September because only 68% of plastic bottles are currently being recycled and then, in October, its new plan to boost the total was judged to be insufficient. 

“It takes time,” the agency said on Monday after presenting a new plan to officials last Friday. ‘We know that the targets are in operation now and that we must do better. We have an ambitious plan to reach them in 2026.”

In particular, the agency plans 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. 

Government inspectors have also asked the fund to increase the number of bottles that carry deposits. 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.

They were always exempt because of the difficulty in cleaning the bottles but this is no longer an issue, the Afvalfonds said. “We have opened the scheme to fruit and dairy.”

The Netherlands introduced deposits of 15 cents on small bottles in July 2021. Cans followed this April.

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