EU lawmakers want the continent’s disparate recycling systems to be more effective and, as a result, more profitable, as there are still ambitious plans to set up an ‘internal market for recycling’. There is still plenty of attention focused on recycling, particularly its shortcomings, provoked largely by China’s landmark import ban on a whole host of waste materials, as well as the so-called Blue Planet effect.

Rules have been adapted accordingly and, in February 2018, EU capitals signed off on new targets that mean 65% of packaging will have to be recycled by 2025 and 70% by 2030.

Delve deeper and there are also specific targets for different material types, from 30% and 55% by 2030 for wood and plastic, respectively, to 75% and 85% for glass and paper.

But without a change of pace those targets could prove to be out of reach for Europe’s recyclers. According to Eurostat data, the EU as a whole recycled 67% of its packaging in 2016 but there are real issues at member state level.

For example, Hungary only recycled 49.7% of its packaging, while Croatia, Estonia and Latvia barely broke 50%, meaning that model students Belgium and Denmark, which are around the 80% benchmark, are doing much of the heavy lifting.

There is a similar story when it comes to material-specific targets like plastic, where many member states are nowhere near the 2025 goal, let alone the 2030 version.

Success stories in the glass and, to a lesser extent, the metal sector mean the outlook is not totally grim for the EU’s recycling aspirations but experts are in agreement that countries have to start using their resources, both material and legislative, better, said Euractiv.