The environmental safety is one of the most pressing issues on the agenda in the modern world. Inefficient usage of the world’s natural resources, rapid technical progress, and massive growth of the world’s population lead to serious ecological issues.

Earlier the severity of this problem wasn’t as obvious as it is now since the environment could deal with waste recycling itself to a certain extent, but rapid technology development made it much difficult. Appearance of new materials, which require hundreds of years to decompose completely, made it impossible for the environment to stand against it. Also, the amount of waste produced in the recent years has grown by multiple times.

However, today one should view waste as the prospective raw material source that is reusable and can be turned into a great variety of tools and goods useful to people.

Using waste as the raw material ensures more rational usage of the world’s natural resources and helps decrease pollution and contamination of sewage waters. Air pollution may be decreased by 70% to 80% and sewage water contamination may be cut down by 30% to 35%. Overall, the availability of recyclable raw materials is much higher that that of the common materials and their quality is equal, let alone the benefits of recyclable material to the society.

The waste law in Poland from December 14, 2012, governs waste as unusable materials or items that the owner is disposing of, planning to dispose of, or must dispose of.

The abovementioned definition means a loss of resources in the form of materials and energy that people or business get disposed of. Growth of the amount of waste and its liquidation may have drastic consequences for the environment.

This is why the European Union politics on ecological safety, and Poland’s politics as the member of the organization too, is aimed at decreasing the negative influence of waste on the environment and citizens’ health as well as using waste as reusable materials more efficiently in order to make recyclable goods and create energy. The long-term aim of this politics is to minimize waste stocks and decrease the amount of produced waste. In case if waste production is inevitable, measures for awareness raising, development of the recycling industry, and safe liquidation of waste shall be taken.


For example, each member country must recycle at least 50% of all produced domestic waste until 2020. The organization also has strict requirements when it comes to other waste. About 70% of all construction waste must be recycled until 2016 and at least 45% of the electronic waste must be recycled until 2020.

According to the statistics of EUROSTAT, currently Poland recycles only 20% of the total amount of produced domestic waste. The leading countries in the industry are the Netherlands with 49%, Sweden with 48%, and Luxembourg with 47%. The average in the EU is 32%.

Production and recycling of polymer materials is considered as the key strategic direction in the EU since its development and competitiveness influences a wide array of governmental sectors. All of it because it brings innovation to many other sectors in the country’s life too: environmental management, agriculture, energetics, electronics, automotive industry, construction industry, packaging industry, medical industry, and so on.

None of the abovementioned sectors would have achieved such a rapid growth rate if it hadn’t been for polymer materials. The economic growth and innovational development in the EU and Poland have been achieved mainly thanks to the successful management of the industry and commercial recycling of various materials, among which polymers play an important role.

Application niche of polymer materials is surprisingly wide and the demand will continue to grow since today Poland recycles only 20% of the total amount of produced polymer materials. Another interesting fact that we’d like to mention is that currently only 20% of all plastics in the world are recycled, whilst other 80% are either burned, polluting the air, or stored at the waste grounds and buried in the oceans or lakes, contaminating the environment and wasting its natural resources and energy. Plastics can be and should be recycled into a great variety of useful and necessary goods.

Let’s review a chart of the global production of polymer materials.

The European Union is the second and the leader is China. We believe that one should understand the total amount of waste the member countries of the EU produce, which states are leading the rating, and how much waste Poland makes.

Table 1. Total amount of produced waste in all industries, 2012, thousands of tons

EU – 28 2 515 110
GERMANY 368 022
FRANCE 344 732
ROMANIA 266 976
POLAND 163 378
ITALY 162 765
BULGARIA 161 252
SWEDEN 156 367
SPAIN 118 562

This table demonstrates that Poland is in the top five countries when it comes to waste production and it recycles only 20% of the total amount of produced waste.

Respectively, Poland possesses high potential and good prospects for investments in waste recycling, which should be viewed as a valuable resource that can be used for production of a wide array of goods, let alone its contribution to the environment and people’s health.


We can and should deal with this problem today. Poland is a very attractive country when it comes to waste recycling because the waste recycling level remains pretty low nationwide and the majority of waste is taken to the waste grounds, burned, or buried. In this case, waste recycling, and further reusing it, becomes a much more logical and economically viable solution.

Innovational technology in polymer recycling can help us turn waste into alternative fuel and even gas. These technologies are not simply profitable, they help to decrease the human-induced influence on the environment too.

This is a ticket to success that brings innovation and has a positive influence on various sectors in the life of the country. Many jobs will be created thanks to it, helping the economy and society, and a very serious ecological threat will be dealt with, decreasing the hazardous influence on the environment and people’s health.

European polymer industry has established an ambitious goal: no polymeric waste must be buried after 2020. PlasticsEurope organization with the support of other industrial associations announced this in 2011 and called for Europe-wide prohibition on waste dumping.

Executive director of PlasticsEurope, Wilfried Haensel, said: “Refusal to dump waste in all European countries is feasible. The most developed countries stopped to dump polymeric waste almost completely, significantly contributing the environment.”

If we talk about all European countries, 58% of the total amount of polymeric waste produced has been recycled and then used in energy restoration. This way there still should be a lot of things done in order to achieve the complete refusal to dump wastes. But firstly we should answer these two questions. How can we reach this goal and how can we overcome inequality and irregularity of the amount of polymeric waste recycled in different European states?

Ton Emans, who has been recently elected as the president of EuPR company engaged in recycling of polymeric waste with its headquarters in Brussels, said: “This is a true challenge, but it can be met if we make applicable amendments in the recycling industry. For example, we should approve the Europe-wide policy on recycling and encourage effective separation of various types of waste in order to provide the industry of polymeric waste recycling with quality raw material. These crucial changes will let increase the efficiency of resource management in Europe, create a large number of jobs, and cut down on carbon emissions thanks to the usage of recycled polymers.”

There is a long-existing gap between the best and the worst European countries when it comes to recycling of polymers. The situation has improved in two last years and the amount of recycled polymeric waste grew from 54% in 2009 to 58% in 2010.

According to the data provided by Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organizations, or simply EPRO, 16 European states recycled more than 30 % of the polymeric packaging in 2010. But Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta still hang behind, processing not more than 22% of the total produced polymeric packaging waste.

Harmonization of the legislation of the EU states and increase in discipline in compliance with the requirements of the EU guidelines on waste recycling will help settle this problem. PlasticsEurope organization appeals to all countries of Europe and urges them to improve their waste recycling policies and try to repeat the success of Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Austria, where waste dumping has been significantly limited.

Together with certain issues in the waste management policy, there are also obstacles in the recycling sector that should be overcome too. Jan-Erik Johansson, serving as Director of Resource Efficiency Program at PlasticsEurope, points out that there are issues that need to be settled in quite a few different fields. We should try to gather all polymeric waste for its further recycling, whilst during the recycling process the emphasis must be placed on the quality of produced goods so that the secondary polymers can be used as effectively as possible. There is a need for the development of recycled goods markets.

Johansson added that if a state is found in a difficult economical and financial situation, the governmental bodies must support it in order to promote and encourage more advanced processing of secondary materials.

“The most common problem is attraction of funding for creation of infrastructure which is necessary for drawing the polymeric waste, which is currently buried on the waste grounds, into economic circulation. At a rough estimate, the necessary funding amount is 8 bln EUR yearly for 27 member countries of the EU as well as for Norway and Switzerland,” he said.


This way there is still so many things to be done before 2020. Technology transfer is a crucial tool and that’s why PlasticsEurope is to launch a project on development of cooperation between polymer industry organizations of France, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom in order to speed up the implementation of the new technologies of polymeric waste recycling.

And though achievement of the goal until 2020 is a really challenging task, the success of Vinyl 2010 program shows that the joint efforts of various counties aimed at recycling of polymeric waste do really help obtain the necessary results.


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