Collection and recycling

Collecting packaging waste
In the Netherlands, municipalities are responsible for the collection and processing of household waste. The collection method for packaging waste can differ from one municipality or region to the next. Glass can be separated by citizens and taken to the glass container. The same goes for paper, for which some municipalities provide small containers to allow people to separately collect paper at home.

Three systems exist for the separation of plastic packaging waste from households:

  1. Citizens separate their plastic packaging waste at home in a separate bin or bag. In many municipalities, plastic is collected together with beverage cartons and/or metal.
  2. Citizens collect all residual waste in a bag or bin. Plastic, metal and beverage cartons are separated in a sorting facility later on.
  3. Everyone can return large PET bottles (larger than 0.5 litres) and crates of beer bottles to supermarkets to get their deposit back.

There are also so-called closed collection systems that are set up by corporations. Some manufacturers and supermarkets, for example, have a return system for crates. After use, these crates are picked up by the supplier or the delivery service. Such collection systems also exist for single-use packaging materials. Nespresso, for example, has created a system that allows users to return their used coffee cups to retailers or have them picked up at home upon delivery of their next order.

The differentiation between source separation and subsequent separation of plastic packaging materials, metal packaging materials, and beverage cartons is made because of the different conditions that exist in municipalities, among other reasons. For example, in places with a lot of high-rise buildings, where citizens have less space available for multiple waste bins, waste collection occurs via source separation in (underground) containers or via subsequent separation. Below, you will find a detailed representation of the collection of the plastic, metal, and beverage carton material streams via source and subsequent separation.


Recycling of packaging materials
The Netherlands is doing well when it comes to recycling, compared to other European countries. In 2016, 73% of all packaging materials put on the market were recycled. That exceeds the Dutch target of 70%, as recorded in the Packaging Decree, and the EU’s target of 55%.

Multiple parties are involved in the process of collecting, processing, sorting, and recycling used packaging materials. Each party is responsible for part of the chain:

  • Municipalities are responsible for the collection of household waste. They choose a collection system and are responsible for the information provision towards citizens. The actual collecting is handled by municipal or private waste collectors.
  • Collectors pick up the waste from households or collection points and transport the various waste streams to sorting or processing installations.
  • Waste streams are sorted by different waste sorters that specialise in certain types of waste, for example glass, paper, metal, beverage cartons, or plastics.
  • Recyclers process the separated materials into raw materials. These are then sold to producers who use them to make new packaging materials.

How can you take the recyclability of packaging materials into account during the design stage?
When developing new packaging materials, you can affect their recyclability in significant ways. To help you with this, the KIDV has developed a guideline with tips to design packaging materials made of plastic, glass, metal, paper/cardboard, and wood in a way that takes account of their ultimate recycling. This guideline can be found below under “More information.”

Two more tips of a general nature:

  • Whenever possible, you should always use recycled materials for the production of new packaging materials. If you use recycled materials, you need fewer new raw materials and create a larger demand for recycled materials. This, in turn, helps increase the market for recycled materials and it stimulates the necessary quality improvement and innovation.
  • Only use compostablematerials for specific purposes. It is hard for many consumers to properly dispose of compostable packaging materials. Many compostable packaging materials are difficult to process in composting facilities. Compostable plastic packaging materials that are not separated in the organic waste stream can end up in the recycling stream of mixed plastics via source or subsequent separation. This can disrupt the plastic recycling process, because compostable plastics have different properties than recyclable plastics and they may even start to compost during the recycling process. The KIDV therefore recommends only using compostable packaging materials for specific purposes. For all other purposes, recyclable materials should be used whenever possible. For more information on this topic, see “Material selection and packaging process.”

More information

Design for Recycling
The KIDV has drawn up a guideline with tips to take recycling into account during the design process of packaging materials. Go here for more information.

Information about opaque PET
More information about the use of opaque PET and how it disrupts the recycling process can be found in this KIDV factsheet.

Recommended videos
If you want to see how the sorting process for PMD works, you can watch this video recorded at the SUEZ sorting facility in Rotterdam.

If you want to see how the recycling of PP/PE works, take a look at this video.