Recyclable packaging

What is the definition of recyclable packaging? What packaging materials are considered recyclable in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg? Why is some packaging waste not yet recyclable?

Discover all this information and find out more about local sorting and recycling!


First of all, what is "recyclable packaging"?

At Valorlux, we take a rigorous approach to defining recyclable packaging. To meet our standards, packaging must satisfy 3 fundamental criteria:


  1. National collection: A collection system is in place for the type of packaging, covering the whole of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
  2. Large-scale sorting: Packaging, particularly the one collected via the Valorlux blue bag, is sorted extensively in facilities such as the Hein Déchets sorting centre in Bech-Kleinmacher, demonstrating the feasibility of large-scale sorting.
  3. Recycling is economically and ecologically viable: Recycling is not something theoretical that is only carried out in a laboratory. It takes place on a large scale, using techniques that are both economically and ecologically sustainable.

What does it mean when we talk about economically and environmentally reasonable recycling?

For us, recycling is economically and environmentally reasonable when the entire recycling chain meets the following criteria:


  • Optimised routes: transport distances for collection, sorting and recycling are minimised, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of transportation.
  • Reasonable costs: The costs for organising the collection, sorting and recycling are optimised, ensuring an economically sustainable management of packaging waste.
  • High-performance sorting facilities: the sorting centre is equipped to efficiently process the main material streams present in the packaging waste.
  • Collaboration with neighbouring countries: recycling facilities are located in neighbouring countries, or other European countries.
  • Proven technology: the recycling technologies used are proven on a large scale, guaranteeing stable sales markets for the recycled materials.

Which packaging waste is collected and recycled?

When you hear Valorlux, you might immediately only think of plastic. However, the range of materials that we treat is bigger than that! In addition to managing the collection of blue bags, we also participate in resource centres, overseeing the collection and recycling of packaging waste deposited there. Moreover, we provide financial support for paper, cardboard and glass collections. This way, we contribute to the recycling of various types of packaging, including:


  • Paper and cardboard packaging
  • Glass packaging
  • Wood packaging, more specifically corks
  • Metal packaging (steel and aluminium)
  • Beverage cartons
  • Plastic packaging
  • Eco-bags

Focus on the blue bag: Which packaging is sorted at the sorting centre?

The packaging collected through the Valorlux bag is taken to the Hein Déchets sorting centre in Bech-Kleinmacher. At this facility, the sorted fractions include:


  • PET bottles (transparent/light blue)
  • PET bottles (green/dark blue)
  • PET bottles (other colours)
  • PET mix (trays, pots, cups)
  • HDPE: bottles and flasks
  • PE and PP: film
  • PP: cups, pots, trays
  • PS: cups, pots, trays
  • Steel
  • Aluminium
  • Beverage cartons


Selecting our recyclers: How do we make our choices?

We prioritise local recycling whenever possible, but the practical reality often lead us beyond our borders. Why? Because Luxembourg currently has only one cost-effective channel for recycling locally; the one for steel packaging. With a break-even point of around 25,000 tonnes for plastic packaging, for instance, we need to seek solutions elsewhere.


As a result, the majority of sorted materials are transported to recyclers in neighbouring or other European countries. This decision, while pragmatic, is also guided by our commitment to economically and environmentally viable recycling.


The selection of our recyclers is not left to chance. Each of our recycling partners is certified by local authorities and the Luxembourg environment administration approves the export of packaging waste to these recyclers. This way, we can ensure a transparent process that complies with environmental laws and standards.


The countries to which we sent packaging waste in 2022 are listed below. You can consult the current list of recyclers to which the various types of materials are delivered in our annual report, available in the Media Library section of the website.


  • Steel packaging is recycled in Luxembourg.
  • Aluminium packaging is recycled in Belgium.
  • Beverage cartons are recycled in Germany.
  • Plastic packaging is recycled in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany.
  • Cardboard and paper packaging is recycled in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
  • Glass packaging is recycled in France.
  • Corks are recycled in Germany.

Metal packaging: steel and aluminium


Did you know that 80% of steel introduced onto the market is still in use today? And that recycling one tonne of metal saves between 70 % and 95 % of energy compared to producing it from ore (1)?


Curious about the sorting and recycling process for metal packaging put on the Luxembourg market? What types of packaging are involved? This section has all the answers you need.


Aluminium, the most abundant metal in the earth's crust, is extracted from bauxite, a rock discovered in Les Baux-de-Provence in France in 1821. Since 1886, 1.5 billion tonnes of aluminium have been produced, with daily world production currently standing at 180,000 tonnes (2).


Aluminium is a packaging material prized for its barrier function, protecting products from contaminants and extending their shelf life. The best-known aluminium packaging is undoubtedly the drinks can. Every year, Europeans use up to 50 billion cans for water, soft drinks and beer (3).


Aluminium packaging is used in a variety of applications, including:


  • Drinks cans
  • Food trays
  • Pet food containers
  • Yoghurt pot lids
  • Aerosols
  • Bottle caps (e.g. juice, water, wine, spirits)
  • Biscuit and chocolate tins
  • Cosmetic packaging
  • Aluminium foil
  • Wine bottle caps and champagne lids



At the sorting centre in Bech-Kleinmacher, advanced machines called eddy current machines efficiently sort all aluminium packaging. Once sorted, the aluminium packaging waste is compacted into bales, making it easier to transport to the recycling facility.




At the recycling facility, the process continues by exposing the aluminium packaging waste to high temperatures in a furnace. After the aluminium is remelted and refined, the resulting material can be ground into ingots or slabs. These ingots then undergo a rolling process to create aluminium foil, which is used to manufacture new packaging or other items.


  • Nearly 75 % of the produced aluminium is still in use (5).
  • Recycling 1 kg of aluminium saves 4 kg of bauxite, the ore needed for its primary production (4).
  • The aluminium recycling process requires around 5 % of the energy used to produce primary aluminium (4).


Remember to place your aluminium packaging in the blue bag! For more information on sorting, check out our page dedicated to the blue bag.

Steel, an iron-carbon alloy, has been mined since the Iron Age and became a versatile packaging material during the industrial revolution in the second half of the 19th century.


Steel established itself as a reliable material for various products due to its properties that offer protection against ultraviolet (UV) radiation, moisture and air, ensuring a secure seal without permeation.


Steel packaging is used in a variety of applications, including:


  • Cosmetics cans
  • Beverage cans
  • Chocolate, tea or coffee cans
  • Confectionery cans
  • Generic cans
  • Beer bottle caps
  • Tin cans
  • Lids
  • Tea lights
  • Aerosols



At the Bech-Kleinmacher sorting centre in Luxembourg, a magnetic overband, a large magnet positioned above a conveyor belt, captures all the steel packaging waste. The collected steel waste is initially pressed into bales and then transported to a conditioner for compaction. After this process, the scrap steel is sent to Arcelor Mittal in Differdange for recycling.




At Arcelor Mittal, the scrap undergoes the initial stage of melting in an electric arc furnace. Simultaneously, oxygen (O) is introduced to eliminate carbon, in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). Additional substances like silicon (Si) or aluminium (Al) are added as reducing agents or deoxidizers to remove the oxygen. The purified steel obtained in this process is then taken to a refining furnace, known as a ladle furnace, where necessary alloys are added to determine the specific characteristics of the final product. Eventually, the ladle is directed to the continuous caster.


(Source image: Arcelor Mittal Luxembourg)


  1. Scrap iron is placed into scrap baskets by using a grab.
  2. Using a crane, the scrap baskets are emptied into the electric arc furnace.
  3. After melting the load, the liquid iron is poured into a ladle.
  4. The ladle is put into the ladle furnace, where the steel grade is produced by adding alloy elements.
  5. Using a crane, the finished steel grade is poured into the continuous caster machine.
  6. The solidified beam-blank is transported to the neighbouring steelworks.


The recycled steel derived from packaging waste in Luxembourg is utilised in the manufacturing of beams, sheet piling and rails. Steel packaging waste from Luxembourg doesn't as such transform back into packaging. This is because Arcelor Mittal's specialised steel packaging plant is situated in Dunkirk, France. Considering the environmental and economic aspects, it wouldn't be reasonable to transport steel packaging waste from Luxembourg to Dunkirk. Therefore, recycling this waste locally and contributing to the production of construction materials like beams makes more sense.


  • Recycling 1 tonne of steel saves 1.5 tonnes of iron ore, 650 kg of coal and 300 kg of limestone when compared to primary production (6).
  • The steel recycling process saves 74 % of the energy used in primary steel production (7).


Remember to place your steel packaging in the blue bag! For more details on sorting, visit our page dedicated to the blue bag.

One outstanding characteristic of metal is its ability to be recycled endlessly without it losing its physical and chemical properties. This remarkable recyclability means that the majority of metal introduced to the market and used in packaging is still in use today.


In theory, it implies that entirely new metal items could be manufactured exclusively from recycled metal. In practice, however, the necessity for the simultaneous use of both raw and secondary materials persists because a considerable amount of metal is integrated into applications with extended life cycles, such as buildings and cars. In these applications, it takes a substantial amount of time before the metals can be retrieved and incorporated into a new product. Therefore, injecting raw materials into production becomes essential to obtain the quantities needed to fulfil European and global demand.


This underscores the significance of collecting and recycling metal packaging through existing channels. Due to the short life cycle of packaging, secondary materials become rapidly accessible for the production of new items. By recycling metal packaging, we actively contribute to the circular economy, curbing the need for extracting new minerals, safeguarding other natural resources and diminishing CO2 emissions.


Hence, your beverage can, following its use and recycling, could potentially find new life in industries like shipbuilding, automotive or construction. Or, it may be reincarnated as another can.

Current recycling rates


  • The recycling rate for metal packaging was 65 % in Luxembourg in 2022 (9).
  • The minimum recycling rate imposed by legislation is 50 %.
  • In Luxembourg, metal accounts for 5 % of the total quantity of packaging waste recycled (9).


Recycling rate subject to legislation in Europe and Luxembourg


Year Ferrous metals Aluminium
2025 70 % 50 %
2030 80 %

60 %




Key facts: 

  • Annually, 98 billion units of metal packaging are manufactured in Europe for the food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical sectors. This implies that each European Union resident consumes an average of 4 units per week (8).
  • It only takes 60 days for an aluminium can to go through the entire process: production, filling, distribution, consumption and recycling into a new can (3).
  • One tonne of recycled steel can be utilised to produce 13 dishwashers or 12,000 850 ml tins (7).


Place your metal packaging in the blue bag! For additional details on sorting, refer to our page dedicated to the blue bag.

Plastic packaging

Plastic made up 19 % of the overall weight of packaging waste in Europe in 2021, encompassing all materials (1). Additionally, 39 % of the plastic demand in Europe is attributed to packaging production (2).


However, which specific materials fall under the broad category of "plastic"? And, considering the existing state of sorting and recycling facilities in Luxembourg, how recyclable is plastic? All these questions will be addressed in this article.


Plastics can be derived from various sources, including cellulose, coal, natural gas, or oil. Although it can be made entirely from renewable sources, its production is currently closely tied to the oil industry. But why does this strong connection persist?


Post World War II, efforts to stimulate the economy led to an increased demand for energy. Oil, due to its affordability, experienced rapid growth and remains indispensable today. Despite the ongoing energy transition, the global economy still heavily relies on fossil fuels.

It was in the context of oil exploitation that plastics emerged. Oil refining extracts various products like fuel oil, diesel, paraffin and naphtha. Naphtha is used to produce plastic resins, making plastics, as we know them today, a by-product of oil refining.


In 1907, Leo Hendrik Baekeland pioneered the plastic age by inventing Bakelite, the very first mass-produced synthetic plastic. Initially used for telephones, this invention marked the beginning of a materials revolution.


Cellophane, PVC, polystyrene, polyethylene and nylon all entered the market before World War II. However, it was after the war that plastic truly gained momentum. Tupperware entered the market in 1946, followed by the first plastic bottle in 1968.


Since then, technological advances have propelled global plastic production and use. In 2022, 400 million tonnes were produced worldwide, including 59 million tonnes in Europe (2), with forecasts indicating that global production could reach up to 650 million tonnes by 2035 (3).

The success of plastic packaging is rooted in the unique characteristics of this material. Its flexibility, strength, lightness, stability and barrier properties that protect the contents, along with ease of sterilisation and versatility in film or rigid applications, make plastic a preferred choice for various types of packaging.


Plastic is particularly attractive in food packaging. Its properties help minimise food waste by keeping food fresh and extending its shelf life. It prevents flavour transfer, preserving the natural taste of food. Moreover, it enables distributors to comply with strict food safety standards by ensuring hygienic treatment and protecting food from external contaminants. It's important to note that no other packaging option currently offers all the features that plastic does. This versatility explains its continued success as a packaging material.

PP (polypropylene) belongs to the polyolefin family and is known for its low density. Its heat resistance makes it particularly suitable for foods that require microwave heating.


In 2022, it constituted 15.4 % of the European plastic production (2).


Polypropylene is commonly used in various packaging applications, including:


  • Microwaveable food trays
  • Trays and pots for salads
  • Yogurt pots
  • Butter/margarine jars
  • Confectionery bags
  • Flower pots
05 Polypropylène

You can identify PP by the identification code "5" if it is mentioned on the packaging.

HDPE (high-density polyethylene) is part of the polyolefin family. With higher density, it is characterized by its rigidity, strength and high resistance to tension and impact.


In 2022, it represented 8.7 % of European plastic production (2).


HDPE packaging is commonly used in various packaging applications, including:


  • Rigid bottles for drinks (e.g. milk)
  • Bottles for cleaning and hygiene products (e.g. detergent, cleaning products, shampoo)
  • Containers for condiments (e.g. mustard, mayonnaise)
  • Jars
  • Caps
  • Film
02 Polyethylène Haute Densité

You can identify HDPE by the identification code "2" if it is mentioned on the packaging.

PET, a member of the polyester family, is both strong and lightweight. Its primary application is in the production of plastic bottles. What makes the PET bottle unique is that the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has approved the use of recycled plastic, known as R-PET, to be reincorporated into the production of new bottles. This way, the PET bottle represents a tangible example of circularity in the plastics sector. Find out below how a PET bottle is recycled to create a new one.



In 2022, PET represented 5 % of European plastic production (2).


PET packaging is commonly used in various packaging applications, including:


  • Bottles for drinks (e.g. juice, water)
  • Food trays (not recyclable because the recycling process has not yet been implemented on a large scale)
  • Small jars for salad dressings and sauces (not recyclable because the recycling process has not yet been implemented on a large scale)
  • Spice jars (not recyclable because the recycling process has not yet been implemented on a large scale)
  • Bottles for hygienic products (recyclable up to a limit of 5 % of the total mass with the flow of plastic bottles according to EFSA rules)
01 Polyethylène Terephthalate

You can identify PET by the identification code "2" if it is mentioned on the packaging.

LDPE (low-density polyethylene) is a member of the polyolefin family. LDPE has a low density. It is flexible, supple and extensible, able to withstand temperatures of up to 80 degrees Celsius. In 2022, it represented 13.4 % of European plastic production (2).


PE-LD packaging is commonly used in various packaging applications, including:


  • Plastic bags and films, bin liners
  • Lidding film for food trays
  • Packaging films
04 Polyethylène Basse Densité

You can identify LDPE by the identification code "2" if it is mentioned on the packaging.

Polystyrene packaging, whether in foam (EPS) or rigid (PS or XPS) form, has a low oxygen and vapor barrier, as well as a relatively low melting point. Expanded polystyrene (EPS), also known as frigolite or styrofoam, is a well-known application of PS. It is a packaging material widely used in many everyday applications. Its lightness, strength, shock absorption and thermal insulation make it a popular choice.


  • In 2021, the placing on the market of drinks packaging and cups made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) was banned because of the frequency with which this packaging was ending up as litter on European beaches.
  • White EPS (styrofoam) is collected separately in the resource centres and cannot, therefore, be placed in the blue bag.
  • As far as XPS (extruded polystyrene) is concerned, there is currently no economically or environmentally viable recycling channel for this type of packaging in Luxembourg, making it non-recyclable.


In 2022, it represented 5.4 % of European plastic production (PS + EPS) (2).


PS packaging is commonly used in various packaging applications, including:


  • Pots for dairy products (e.g. yogurt, fresh cream) (PS)
  • Trays for fish (PS)
  • Meat trays (PS and XPS)
  • Cushioning and protective packaging (EPS)
06 Polystyrène

You can identify PS by the identification code "6" if it is mentioned on the packaging.

Bioplastics are increasingly making headlines through their use in packaging, consumer goods or textiles. Terms like "bio sourced," "biodegradable" or "compostable" are becoming more common in packaging discussions. However, what do these terms truly signify?


The generic term "bioplastic" encompasses plastics with diverse properties. Plastics falling under this term can be bio sourced, biodegradable, or both, and may originate from renewable or fossil resources, as depicted in the diagram below (4).

Labelling packaging as produced from "bioplastic" provides no indication of its actual origin, leading to potential consumer confusion. Recognising this confusion, the European Commission proposed a framework in 2022 to offer clarifications and recommendations on the use of bioplastics that genuinely benefits the environment (5). The framework outlines how these materials should be designed, sorted by consumers and recycled. The Commission emphasizes that the mention of “bioplastic” on packaging should not encourage littering, as consumers might assume it is biodegradable. It also cautions that, despite being labelled “bio”, the positive environmental impact of such packaging compared to conventional plastic packaging is not necessarily proven. As such, these solutions pose specific sustainability challenges that must be thoroughly understood and properly addressed.


Outlook for the use of bioplastics in packaging


Bio sourced, biodegradable and compostable plastics have the potential to emerge as alternatives to traditional plastics, particularly in applications where their use can bring genuine environmental benefits. However, the current production of plastics from renewable resources is still in the early stages of development. In 2023, bioplastics production represented only 0.5 % of the total global plastics production, with 43 % (0.9 million tonnes) used for packaging (6,7).


Despite the increasing presence of bioplastics in the packaging sector, their share remains relatively modest compared to global plastic production and demand. Nevertheless, the sector aims to triple its production capacity by 2028 (6).


The growth of this sector in Europe will be influenced, in part, by the regulatory framework established. The European Commission is considering detaching plastic production from fossil resources, ensuring that these new plastics provide genuine ecological advantages over those derived from non-renewable resources (5).


Until this separation from fossil resources becomes a reality, plastics derived from fossil resources are likely to continue playing a significant role in our daily lives.



Good to Know


Compostable and biodegradable plastics should not be placed in the blue bag as they behave differently than conventional plastics and may disrupt the recycling process.





Plastic packaging collected through door-to-door collection (blue bag) undergoes sorting at the Bech-Kleinmacher centre. Initially, a preliminary sorting process using a rotary sifter separates the packaging based on size, eliminating, for example, very large plastic films from the rest of the sorting process. Next, an air separator is used to separate the smaller, lighter films from the rest, followed by a ballistic separator. This process ensures the complete separation of films (PE and PP) from rigid packaging. The rigid packaging continues its journey through the sorting centre, passing through various optical NIR (near infrared) sorting units. Each NIR unit can identify a specific material (PP, PS, PET, PE), resulting in waste sorted by resin type at the end of the sorting chain. For PET bottles, various NIRs can also distinguish the colour of the bottle, sorting them into clear/light blue bottles, dark blue/green bottles and bottles of other colours. At the end of the sorting process, each material is compressed into bales and prepared for delivery to various recycling plants.




Bales are sent from Bech-Kleinmacher to various recyclers. The list of all the recyclers per material types can be found in our annual report, available in the Media Library section of the website.


Each plastic material requires a specific processing technique at the recycling facility, as recyclers generally specialise in recycling a particular plastic resin due to different densities and melting temperatures associated with each resin type.


It is essential to note that most mechanically recycled plastic materials do not yet have EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) approvals for reuse in packaging that comes into contact with food. Only resins from PET bottles can currently be reprocessed into new bottles. Consequently, resins authorised for such applications must not be mixed with those that do not have this authorisation in order to avoid contamination. This underscores the importance of supplying each recycler with resins of a single variety.


Although the recycling process for each resin requires specific techniques, the main stages are similar. Initially, the waste is washed to remove major impurities such as glues or food residues. It is then cut up into flakes, washed again, melted and pressed into pellets. These granules are then used to make new objects or packaging.



Did you know...? Focus on Bottle Caps


When you're sorting your packaging, you can leave the caps on the plastic bottles. During the washing process, the flakes from the HDPE caps float to the top, while those from the PET bottles sink to the bottom. This floating separation makes it easy to distinguish and separate these two materials before continuing with the recycling process.


However, if you'd like to support a local Luxembourg initiative, you can also collect caps separately and donate them to the ASA association, which funds the training of assistance dogs through its "E Stopp fir e Mupp" initiative.


It's important to note that starting from July 2024, caps on plastic bottles with a capacity of up to three litres must be attached to the bottle during the production process.




Plastic is everywhere in our daily lives: in our cars, our screens, our toys, our clothes and, of course, our packaging.


However, the widespread use of plastic also brings challenges, especially when dealing with the disposal of plastic items in the environment by consumers, contributing to environmental pollution through littering and ocean dumping. It should however be evident that plastic, like any other material, should never find its way into the environment.


Yet, on a global scale, 22 % of plastic packaging waste currently evades waste management systems, ending up in unregulated landfills, being incinerated in an open pit or dumped in land and water environments, particularly in developing countries (8). The core of the problem lies not in plastic itself but in the absence of waste collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure in these regions. According to a UNEP (UN Environment Programme) report, 2 billion people currently lack access to waste collection and management systems (9).


In Luxembourg and Europe overall, we possess the necessary infrastructure to manage our packaging waste. So, why do European Commission estimates indicate that the equivalent of 66,000 trucks loaded with plastic waste is unloaded into Europe's oceans each year (10)?


Against this backdrop, sorting packaging at home and utilising public bins becomes crucial to prevent plastic waste from becoming litter or polluting our waterways.




Between 2000 and 2019, the global production of recycled plastics has increased significantly, rising from 6.8 million tonnes (Mt) to 29.1 Mt. However, this constitutes only 6 % of the total global plastic production, spanning various sectors like construction, automotive, electronics, agriculture, textiles, packaging, etc. (8). Similarly, in 2019, only 9 % of plastic waste was recycled worldwide, while 19 % was incinerated (8), even though recycling plastic waste is approximately five times more efficient than incineration with energy recovery (11). The insufficient infrastructure in some countries is a primary factor contributing to the low global recycling rate, just as it is for collection.


Specifically for plastic packaging waste, the recycling rate in Europe reached 39.7 % in 2021 (12), with a recovery rate of 76.8 % (13).


In 2022, Luxembourg achieved a plastic packaging recycling rate of 50.29% (14). While this figure might seem relatively low, it's crucial to understand that only the collected packaging can be recycled. In 2022, 56.8 % of all plastic packaging put on the Luxembourg market were delivered to recycling plants (14). The remainder of plastic packaging waste either ends up in the incorrect collection structures, especially in the residual waste bin, leading to incineration, or it is improperly discarded into the environment. Some packaging sold in Luxembourg is also taken to a neighbouring country by consumers, bypassing Luxembourg's collection facilities and not contributing to these recycling rates. Other packaging is simply not yet recyclable at this stage.


Properly sorting plastic packaging and using designated collection facilities are essential to ensure actual recycling of plastic packaging waste because only appropriately sorted packaging can undergo the recycling process.

Current recycling rates


  • The plastic packaging recycling rate in Luxembourg was 50.29 % in 2022 (14).
  • The minimum recycling rate mandated by legislation is 22.5 %.
  • In Luxembourg, plastic constituted 14 % of the total quantity of recycled packaging waste in 2022 (14).


Recycling rates targets by the European and Luxembourg legislation


2025: 50 %

2030: 55 %


Recycled content in beverage bottles (R-PET)


2025: 25 % recycled content

2030: 30 % recycled content


Put your plastic packaging in the blue bag! To learn more about sorting, visit our page dedicated to the blue bag.


Key facts:

  • In 2021, 40 % of the plastic packaging introduced into the European Union's market underwent recycling (12).
  • In 2022, 39 % of the European demand for plastic was used in packaging, 23% in construction and 8% in the automotive industry (2).
  • European plastics production (products and packaging) constituted 14 % of the global production in 2022 (2).
  • 54 % of the worldwide production of plastics (products and packaging) was manufactured in Asian countries in 2022 (2).
  • In 2022, 36 % of China's production of plastic products (products and packaging) was exported to Europe (2).



recyclate PET

(11) Amadei A., Ardente F., Garcia-Gutierrez P., Klenert D., Nessi S., Tonini D., Tosches D., Saveyn H. (2022), Environmental and economic assessment of plastic waste recycling, Mechanical, physical and chemical recycling technologies, not yet published

Paper and cardboard packaging


Did you know that the volume of paper and cardboard packaging waste has been on the rise over the past years, reaching 90 kilograms per person in Luxembourg in 2021 (1)? And that paper and cardboard constitute the predominant portion of packaging waste in Europe, making up 40.3 % (2) of the total European waste weight, equivalent to 34 million tonnes generated in 2021 (3)?


Eager to learn about how paper and cardboard are manufactured and recycled, and to grasp the significance of participating in sorting at home? Explore all of this in this section!


The official discovery of paper dates back to the year 105 AD when T'sai Lun, a Chinese official, introduced his papermaking method to the Imperial Court. Although evidence later revealed earlier instances of paper made from plant fibres and silk, this date marks the beginning of a more significant spread of paper worldwide (4).


Its journey began in Asia, extended to the Middle East, and eventually conquered the West and Europe. The 19th century witnessed the flourishing of industrial paper production, initially intended for writing and printing but evolving into various applications, including packaging.


Paper and cardboard are produced by obtaining pulp, either mechanically from wood through grinding (raw material) or from waste paper and cardboard (secondary material). In this process, major components like wood, lignin and cellulose are preserved, forming wood pulp. The resulting paper exhibits good opacity and printability, though it tends to yellow over time.


An alternative method involves the wood-based chemical process, where only cellulose fibres are retained, resulting in pulp that is 95 % cellulose fibres. Unlike wood pulp paper, cellulose pulp paper is less opaque but ages better, as the lignin responsible for yellowing is eliminated during production.

Paper and cardboard packaging are currently experiencing a notable increase in their use for various reasons. This shift is primarily attributed to the rise of e-commerce, restrictions on plastic packaging for certain products and a growing scepticism among consumers toward plastic. These factors contribute to the growing adoption of paper and cardboard packaging, seen as more environmentally friendly.


Paper and cardboard packaging is commonly used in various packaging applications, including:


  • Wrapping boxes (e.g. cereals, muesli, chocolate, rusks)
  • Containers (e.g. pasta, rice, sugar, salt)
  • Overwrapping (e.g. yoghurt)
  • Paper packaging (e.g. flour, sugar)
  • Kraft packaging for nuts and seeds (e.g. walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds)
  • Packaging for e-commerce parcels
  • Pizza boxes
  • Egg cartons
  • Shoeboxes
  • Shopping bags (e.g. for fruit and vegetables, bread and pastries, sandwiches, bulk goods)



In Luxembourg, residents actively participate in the sorting of their paper and cardboard packaging. The packaging waste is then collected through various methods, including door-to-door collection, public containers and resource centres.


Paper and cardboard packaging waste collected through door-to-door services or deposited in resource centres and public containers undergoes processing by different companies in Luxembourg. These companies prepare the materials for recycling. During this process, any disruptive elements, such as multi-material packaging (cardboard combined with plastic) and sealed packaging with contents challenging to visually verify (like a pizza box with food remnants or paper waste placed in a plastic bag), are manually separated by a picker. If needed, semi-automated sorting is conducted to distinguish between paper and cardboard. Finally, the waste is compressed into bales and transported to paper and cardboard mills in neighbouring countries like France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.



Good to know: 

Make the picker's job easier!


When disposing of paper or cardboard packaging with a lid, like pizza boxes, it's recommended to tear them in two before placing them in the sorting bin. This simple step facilitates the manual sorting carried out by the picker, ensuring they can easily assess the quality of the packaging and determine its suitability for recycling (free from food residues and grease). Without visual confirmation, such packaging might be excluded from the recycling process due to the potential hindrance caused by its unknown contents.





The recycling journey of paper and cardboard starts with a second sorting conducted by the recycling facility. Here, various types of paper and cardboard are sorted based on their colour and shape, ensuring the removal of any remaining elements that might disrupt the recycling process.


Subsequently, the waste undergoes a hot-water bath known as a pulper-purifier, where the fibres separate to create a pulp. This pulp, consisting of secondary fibres, becomes the foundation for producing new paper and cardboard. Throughout this procedure, meticulous efforts are made to eliminate elements like staples or small bits of plastic. When necessary, a deinking operation is performed to remove printing ink from the pulp.


The pulp is flattened, dried and then placed on reels. These reels are subsequently utilised for the creation of new finished products.

Approximately every sixth tree that is cut down worldwide is used to produce paper and cardboard. The rising demand for these materials poses a threat to primary forests, as they face the risk of being replaced by intensive plantations, also leading to illegal logging (5).


Despite the renewable nature of these resources, the growing market exerts substantial pressure on global forests. This emphasises the critical need for sorting and recycling paper and cardboard, especially considering that manufacturing paper from primary natural resources consumes almost as much energy as steel production (5).


Recent developments bring hope, as in 2021, 60 % of globally consumed paper and cardboard originated from recycled fibres (6). Recycling paper and cardboard not only safeguards natural resources but also presents significant advantages, such as reducing energy and water consumption compared to production from virgin resources.


Nevertheless, there are instances where using primary fibres becomes necessary, particularly in food packaging, to meet sanitary standards and ensure quality. The gradual decline in fibre quality during recycling cycles makes the use of primary fibres unavoidable to adequately protect the contents of the packaging.


Concerning food packaging, relying exclusively on paper and cardboard as a single material currently proves less suitable for prolonged preservation and packaging of fresh products. The necessity of incorporating different materials in one packaging, such as adding plastic or aluminium to paperboard, becomes unavoidable to ensure the packaging is sealed and impermeable. A common example is the coffee cup, often coated with a thin layer of plastic. Unfortunately, such packaging is currently not recyclable on a large scale due to its composition of various materials.


Another approach to strengthen paper/cardboard packaging is to use additives and adjuvants to obtain certain desired characteristics. This typically includes fillers and coatings, lacquers, inks, adhesives, as well as chemical components like hydrophobic substances or those giving a siliconised or sulphured effect. Depending on the types and quantities of additives used, they can also influence the quality of the recycled pulp and even hinder the recycling process.


When fibres become too short after multiple recycling cycles, usually between six and seven rotations, or when the paper pulp is too contaminated with adjuvants, additives, or other undesirable materials, it can only be used for the production of lower-quality products, such as toilet paper. Raw materials must then be employed for the production of high-quality paperboard packaging, especially if the packaging is intended for food contact.

Current recycling rates


  • The recycling rate for paper and cardboard was 69 % in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in 2022 (7).
  • The minimum recycling rate imposed by legislation is 60 %.
  • In Luxembourg, paper/cardboard accounts for 31 % of the total quantity of recycled packaging waste in 2022 (7).


Recycling targets by the European and Luxembourg legislation


2025 : 75%

2030 : 85%


Key facts:

  • 69 % of paper and cardboard produced globally is intended for use in packaging (6).
  • In Luxembourg, 90 kilograms of paper and cardboard packaging waste were generated per capita in 2021 (1).
  • There are more than 3,000 different types of paper (5).
  • 60 % of globally consumed paper and cardboard in 2022 originated from recycled paper (6).
  • 82.5 % of paper/cardboard packaging waste is recycled in Europe (8).


Good to Know:

  1. Avoid excessive shredding: Refrain from tearing your cardboard waste into small pieces, as this may complicate identification during automated sorting. Excessive shredding can make recycling more challenging.
  2. No plastic bags for paper/cardboard: Do not place your paper/cardboard waste in a plastic bag. At the beginning of the sorting process, they will be considered as undesirable elements and will be discarded, as visual inspection of their content will not be possible. Consequently, they cannot be recycled.
  3. Be cautious with thermal paper: Thermal paper, such as that used for receipts or faxes, should not be disposed of with paper and cardboard waste. Its components can contaminate the pulp during the recycling process. Place this type of paper in the residual waste bin unless it specifically mentions its recyclability.




Glass packaging


Did you know that recycling one tonne of glass saves the extraction from quarries, transportation and processing of 1.2 tonnes of natural resources (1)?


But how does the sorting and recycling of glass packaging waste happen in Luxembourg? What types of packaging are involved? You will find the answers to these questions in this article.


Glass is one of the oldest materials used by humans. Its discovery likely dates back to around 4,500 years before the common era when Mesopotamians realised that the heat from fire could transform sand and soda into glass paste.


Over time, new glass manufacturing techniques, such as moulding and blowing, emerged. Although glass was initially opaque, it already existed in various colours. The first production of highly transparent glass occurred in the Italian city of Murano in the 13th century.


In 1632, English diplomat Kenelm Digby invented the modern glass bottle, and in 1903, American Michael J. Owens created the first machine capable of automatically producing bottles. It was only in the second half of the 20th century, with the introduction of electronically controlled machines, that the production of glass packaging could be industrialised on a large scale.

Glass packaging is used in various ways, including flat glass, hollow glass, fiberglass and technical applications for electronics. Glass packaging falls into the category of hollow glass. It is inert and impermeable, making it very stable. Due to these characteristics, it doesn't require additional barriers or additives to protect its content.


Glass packaging comes in different shapes for various applications, including:


  • Bottles for alcoholic beverages (e.g. wine, beer, spirits, champagne, sparkling wine)
  • Bottles for non-alcoholic beverages (e.g. water, juice, milk)
  • Bottles and jars for personal care, beauty products and pharmaceuticals (e.g. perfumes, creams)
  • Jars for preserves and condiments (e.g. peas, carrots, beans, jam, pickles, capers)
  • Bottles for oil or vinegar
  • Salt or pepper shakers



In the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, glass packaging sorted by citizens is collected in various ways: through dedicated bins available to households, public bins and containers in public spaces, or in the resource centres. The bin collected door-to-door is probably the easiest way for consumers to sort their glass packaging.


After collection, glass packaging waste is transported to companies such as Lamesch in Bettembourg and Holzthum, Hein in Bech-Kleinmacher and Eco-Tec in Sanem. At these facilities, the first undesirable elements are already sorted manually from the glass packaging waste.




From Luxembourg, the glass is then transported to the company Sibelco in France. Generally, glass packaging waste goes through several preparation stages before being transformed into cullet, which is glass debris used as a substitute for raw materials:


  • Magnetic sorting separates ferrous metal bodies (bottle caps, jar lids and various metals) from the rest of the stream.
  • Manual sorting then removes bulky waste (newspapers, cardboard, plastic bags).
  • The calibration phase involves grinding the glass waste.
  • Non-ferrous metal materials (such as aluminium) are extracted via Foucault currents.
  • During optical sorting, inert and non-melting bodies (cups, plates, flower pots) are removed from the stream.
  • Finally, colour sorting is carried out.


The cullet, sorted by colour, can then be delivered to the glassmaker, who is responsible for transforming it again, for example, into new packaging. For this, the cullet is once again liquefied in a melting furnace. Sometimes, it is necessary to add primary resources such as sand or soda. However, cullet has become an important raw material for the glass industry, with some furnaces operating with over 90 % cullet (2).

The glass used to produce packaging, known as soda-lime glass, is composed of three basic ingredients: silicon dioxide (SiO2), sodium oxide (Na2O) and calcium oxide (CaO). However, glass production no longer exclusively relies on raw materials but also incorporates cullet - broken glass, coming from the collection of glass packaging waste.


By opting for the use of cullet, the production of new glass packaging saves natural resources. Moreover, glass can, in principle, be recycled indefinitely (3).


Glass packaging, collected after sorting by consumers through the collection systems in place in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, can thus have a second life in the form of new glass products. In 2021, 80.1 % of glass packaging was collected throughout Europe for recycling (4). This rate was 70 % in Luxembourg for the year 2022 (5). By contributing to the sorting of glass packaging, you can as such actively participate in increasing the circularity of glass through improving the collection and recycling rates.

Current recycling rates


  • The glass recycling rate was 66 % in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in 2022 (5).
  • The minimum recycling rate imposed by legislation is 60 %.
  • In Luxembourg, glass represented 44 % of the total quantity of recycled packaging waste in 2022 (5).


Recycling targets by the European and Luxembourg legislation


2025: 70 %

2030: 75 %

Key Facts:

  • Glass packaging waste accounted for 18.5 % of the volume of packaging waste generated in Europe in 2021 (6).
  • The recycling rate for glass packaging was 75 % in 2021 in Europe (7).
  • Recycling 1 tonne of glass avoids the extraction, transport and processing of 1.2 tonnes of natural resources (1).
  • With 1 tonne of recycled glass, an average of 2,200 new 75 cl bottles can be produced (1).
  • Recycling 1 tonne of glass saves 580 kg of CO2 (3) across the entire value chain, equivalent to driving 197,950 km by TGV (4).



Good to Know :

  1. Only packaging glass (soda-lime glass) can be thrown into glass bins or containers! Other types of glass, such as mirrors, lamps, television screens, light bulbs, crystal containers, Pyrex or porcelain, should not be placed in glass bins, as they have different properties that could disrupt the recycling process. These special types of glass should be deposited at the resource centres.
  2. Don't forget to throw metal lids, champagne/sparkling wine wire cages, crown caps and screw caps from glass bottles and jars into the blue bag!
  3. For returnable glass bottles, it is recommended to return them to the retailer rather than throwing them into the glass bin or containers. Returnable glass bottles can be washed, refilled and reused without going through the melting phases, thereby improving its ecological footprint.




Beverage cartons


What sets beverage cartons apart from other recyclable packaging? Discover how they are composed and follow their sorting and recycling process in this article.


In 1915, John van Wormer, an American, patented the first beverage carton. These cartons were initially used for liquid foods like milk in the 1930s. To make them waterproof, these early cartons were coated with a layer of paraffin wax. Inspired by this innovation and after visiting the United States, a German named Günter Meyer-Jagenberg invented the Perga packaging, a waterproof and foldable carton, for which he obtained a patent in 1929 in Europe (1). It was the first flexible packaging available in Europe, which continues to inspire the design  of modern beverage cartons.


The real boom of beverage cartons began after World War II. The packaging took on a new form, the one we know today as the brick, to facilitate transportation to supermarkets, which were experiencing increasing popularity and replacing small neighbourhood stores. With the gradual introduction of plastic to the market, the paraffin wax layer was replaced by a layer of polyethylene.


In 1975, another innovation emerged: aseptic filling. This process ensures an even longer shelf life for food and protects it from contamination. This development was accompanied by the addition of a thin layer of aluminium inside the beverage carton, allowing this type of carton to be used for other liquid food applications today, such as soups.

Beverage cartons are packaging made up of cardboard, polyethylene and, for aseptic beverage cartons, a thin layer of aluminium. On average, a beverage carton consists of 75 % paper fibres, 4 % aluminium and 21 % plastic (low-density polyethylene film and high-density polyethylene cap) (3).


Each layer serves a specific function. The plastic layer, made of polyethylene, acts as a barrier material, protecting the contents from moisture. Aluminium, on the other hand, guards against oxygen and light infiltration. The cardboard, the main material, comes from sustainably managed forests and is certified by internationally recognised certification systems such as FSC or PEFC and provides the packaging with rigidity (3).


This combination of materials gives beverage cartons specific properties: they are waterproof, lightweight, and block light and oxygen. Their distinctive brick shape also facilitates transportation. These packages ensure the protection of their contents, whether at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Their ability to preserve ingredients for up to twelve months without refrigeration also contributes to reducing food waste.


Beverage cartons come in different forms for various applications, including:


  • Containers for dairy products (e.g. milk, chocolate milk, cream)
  • Containers for non-alcoholic beverages (e.g. juice, water)
  • Containers for alcoholic beverages (e.g. wine)
  • Containers for liquid foods (e.g. soup)



In Luxembourg, beverage cartons sorted by citizens are collected in various ways: through the Valorlux blue bag or at resource centres. The Valorlux blue bag collected door-to-door is certainly the easiest way for consumers to sort their beverage cartons.


After collection, the beverage cartons are transported to the sorting centre at Hein Déchets in Bech-Kleinmacher.


At the sorting centre, beverage cartons undergo the same sorting process as other materials collected in the Valorlux bag, such as plastic and metal packaging. Beverage cartons can be separated from the rest of the stream using near infrared optical sorting (NIR). At the end of the sorting process, all packaging waste made from beverage carton is grouped into a single fraction, then compressed into bales for transport to a specialized recycler in Germany.




The recycling process for beverage cartons partly resembles that of paper and cardboard packaging. However, due to the different materials in beverage cartons, it requires dedicated treatment by specialized recyclers to recover paper fibres and separate them from the other materials constituting the various layers of the beverage carton, namely plastic and aluminium.


To recover secondary fibres used in the production of new paper and cardboard products, the waste is first immersed in a hot water bath called a pulper-cleaner, where the fibres separate and form a pulp. This step takes longer than for packaging made only of paper and cardboard, ensuring complete fibre separation from plastic and aluminium.


Next, plastic and aluminium are removed from the fibre stream. The paper pulp is then spread and dried before being wound into rolls. From these rolls, new finished paper and cardboard products can be manufactured. The mixture of plastic and aluminium can be recycled through a separate recycling process in a specialised recycling plant.

Beverage cartons regularly spark debates due to divergent opinions on their ecological pros and cons.


On one hand, beverage cartons are made from recyclable wood fibres sourced from sustainably managed forests, certified according to standards like FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the endorsement of forest certification). While these fibres cannot be reintegrated into food packaging, they find a second life in applications such as tissues, paper towels, toilet paper), cardboard boxes, paper bags and envelopes.


On the other hand, beverage cartons include layers of plastic and aluminium bonded together. This composition complicates the recycling process, raising questions about their environmental impact. Although wood fibres can be recycled and reused in other products, the other materials, the mix of polyethylene and aluminium known as PolyAl, cannot yet be recycled on a large scale currently. As of 2023, seven recycling plants in Europe could process one-third of the plastic and aluminium mix from beverage carton waste. The industry aims to achieve a recycling rate of 43 % for PolyAl by 2025. Furthermore, major beverage carton manufacturers are committed to developing alternative recycling structures to achieve a recycling rate of at least 70 % by 2030. To reach this goal, 90 % of beverage cartons placed on the market must be collected in appropriate collection structures. Your sorting efforts play as such a crucial role in achieving this target.

Current recycling rates


  • The recycling rate for beverage cartons stood at 70.45 % in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in 2022 (2).
  • There is no minimum recycling rate mandated by legislation.
  • In Luxembourg, beverage cartons constitute 1 % of the total quantity of recycled packaging waste (2).


Recycling targets by the European and Luxembourg legislation


There are no specific recycling rates required by European and Luxembourgish legislation.


Key Facts:

  • 75 % of milk and 59 % of juices in Europe are packaged in beverage cartons (3).
  • Approximately twenty specialised recycling plants exist in Europe to process discarded beverage cartons (3).
  • 1,142 tonnes of beverage cartons were introduced to the Luxembourg market in 2022 (2).


bale of beverage cartons



Good to Know :

You can place emptied beverage cartons in the blue bag. To optimise space in the bag, feel free to flatten them lengthwise.




Wooden Packaging: corks


Did you know that the recycling rate for wooden packaging was 32.2 % in Europe in 2021 (1)? And that there is a dedicated collection for corks in Luxembourg?


Explore this article to learn more about the types of wooden packaging, as well as their collection and recycling process.


Wood is an extraordinary material due to its versatility, renewable nature and positive impact on the environment. While determining its exact emergence date is complicated due to its biodegradable nature, the discovery of fossilised wood in France, in Maine-et-Loire, has traced its earliest presence on Earth to 407 million years ago (2)!


Wood has played a central role throughout significant stages of human evolution, serving as a tool, weapon, fuel and as an essential material in the homes of both nomadic and settled peoples.


Although its use in construction declined in favour of steel and concrete since the industrial revolution, wood has continued to be widely used, especially in the manufacturing of doors, windows, flooring, panelling and stairs. Nowadays, wood retains great importance, thriving in sectors such as construction, industry, energy and more recently, in the production of packaging, demonstrating its ongoing usefulness in our contemporary societies.

Wooden packaging is used for wrapping, transporting, handling, preserving and presenting food products.


Wooden packaging comes in different forms for various applications, including:


  • Baking moulds
  • Trays for fresh foods (e.g. fruit, vegetables, seafood, cheeses)
  • Wine and spirits
  • Corks
  • Pallets
  • Transport crates

Corks are collected separately in resource centres. Every year, between 4 and 6 tonnes of corks are thus recovered. After being collected and stored in Luxembourg, corks are transported to Germany for recycling. Once dusted off, the corks are crushed into granules. These granules are then mixed with glue and pressed to form panels or rolls of agglomerated cork. These products are for example used as acoustic or thermal insulators or in the production of doors.


recyclat liègerouleau de liège aggloméré


(Source: Korken für Kork)

Cork, a material with exceptional properties such as impermeability, buoyancy, elasticity and fire resistance, mainly comes from cork oak forests located in the Iberian Peninsula, notably in Portugal and Spain.


The harvest of cork bark takes place when the cork oak reaches the age of 20 to 25 years, and it can be renewed every 9 to 12 years. Throughout its lifespan, a cork oak can produce up to 1000 kg of bark, of which approximately 300 kg are on average transformed into cork stoppers.


Cork, as a natural material, deserves a second life through recycling. In 2023, 7 tonnes of all the cork stoppers introduced to the Luxembourg market could be collected for recycling. With your contribution to sorting, corks can find a new purpose, avoiding being thrown into the residual waste bin.

Current recycling rates


  • The recycling rate for wooden packaging in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was 81 % in 2021 (3).
  • The minimum recycling rate imposed by legislation is 15 %.


Recycling targets by the European and Luxembourg legislation


2025: 25 %

2030: 30 %


Key Facts:

  • Wooden packaging accounted for 1 % of the total quantity of packaging waste recycled in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in 2022 (3).
  • The recycling rate for wooden packaging was 81 % in Luxembourg in 2022 (3).
  • On average, each citizen generated 32 kg of wooden packaging waste in 2021 in the European Union. In Luxembourg, the amount was 25 kg per inhabitant in 2021 (4).



Good to Know :

By participating in the sorting of corks, you are supporting a local association! For every tonne collected, we provide financial support to ASA ASBL for the funding of assistance dog training as part of the "E Stopp fir e Mupp" initiative. To learn more, visit the following link:




Why is some packaging waste currently not recycled?

Various factors explain why certain packaging waste cannot be currently recycled:


  • Technological advancement: In order to recycle each material, its recycling technology needs to exists. For some materials, recycling technology has not yet been developed or does not allow for large-scale waste recycling currently.
  • Economic and ecological interest: The absence of stable sales markets for the recycled materials, insufficient waste volumes, and high costs lead to the conclusion that it is neither economically nor ecologically reasonable to consider recycling certain materials.
  • Competitiveness compared to virgin material: A recycling chain must be competitive compared to production from virgin material. Fluctuations in raw material prices can also influence the development of the recycling industry.
  • Innovative material packaging: Advances in the introduction of packaging made from innovative materials often hinder quality recycling because the technology for their sorting and recycling still needs to be developed.

Emptying your packaging is the first step towards quality recycling!

To ensure efficient sorting and recycling of collected packaging, follow these simple tips:


  • Completely empty your bottles and beverage cartons of any liquid.
  • Avoid leaving food residues in your cardboard packaging (e.g. pizza boxes).
  • Remove all food leftovers from your jars, cups and trays. However, it is not necessary to wash them.


By adopting these practices, you ensure that your recyclable packaging will be properly processed in the sorting and recycling chain.


Note: Packaging that has not been emptied is mechanically or manually removed from the sorting and recycling process and will not be recycled.


Find more information on sorting guidelines on the "blue bag" page.

Why is your commitment to sorting packaging important?

A bit of maths, if you please?

To achieve our vision of transforming all packaging waste into new resources, we need the participation of everyone. Your sorting efforts are crucial because:


  • If 90 % of people sort,
  • 90 % of the time,
  • 90 % correctly, then 73 % of packaging waste is available for recycling after your sorting at home.


As a consequence, even with all the goodwill in the world, it will be very difficult, if not unrealistic, to expect a 100 % collection of packaging waste. We understand in this context that sorting can seem complicated due to the variety of existing packaging, and sometimes mistakes can occur despite all your efforts. What matters is your commitment to sorting, following the guidelines you find on public bins, on our "the blue bag" page and sorting at home or in resource centres using the bins and containers provided for this purpose.


By all doing our best to sort regularly and correctly, we will collectively increase our chances of achieving our recycling goals, giving a new life to your packaging waste by transforming it into new resources.

Packaging waste: overview of the quantities generated in Luxembourg

In 2021, each person in Luxembourg generated 214 kg of packaging waste, placing the country in the top 5 in Europe in terms of this waste, while the average in Europe is 189 kg per person. The European average quantity continues to increase, having risen by 35 kg per person since 2012 (1).


Although these figures might suggest that we are about to be overwhelmed by our own waste, the Commission is working to change our consumption habits and improve the management of the production and end-of-life of this packaging waste.

A key objective is to make all packaging recyclable by 2030, thus encouraging the reuse of materials in new packaging or items after having being sorted by consumers. For the Commission, recycling remains as such a crucial lever to manage the growing quantity of packaging waste we produce.


Additionally, in the coming years, the Commission plans to further promote the use of reusable packaging, such as reusable cups for takeaway coffee. Indeed, using reusable packaging helps avoid extracting natural resources for the production of single-use packaging. The more we use them, the better their ecological impact.


As consumers, we will likely all need to change our behaviours in the years in order to better manage our waste and adopt a more environmentally friendly approach towards our natural resources.



Good to Know

Do you use Eco-bags? That's great! But do you also reuse them?

According to our calculations, each person in the active age group (> 15 years) has purchased 4 Eco-bags (large or small) in 2023. Considering all those that have been forgotten in our homes, a lot of us should currently have enough Eco-bags to reuse for the next ten years.


We all find ourselves in the situation where we go shopping and have forgotten to bring our reusable bag. Unfortunately, buying another Eco-bag only to throw it away afterward is not the right solution. An Eco-bag that is not reused, or is even discarded after a single use, has a much worse ecological impact than single-use bags.

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