Eco-score recycling - en

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In January 2021 the eco-score has been launched. The eco-score is a label that indicates the environmental impact of a product. It is based on the lifecycle of ingredients in a product and their relative impact. This impact has been assessed for the agricultural methods used in France.

Although the eco-score is based on France, OFF would like to extend the eco-score to other countries. This involves adding the country specific aspects for:

This document describes how the eco-score packaging malus can be extended to other countries.


The basis for the packaging part of the eco-score is described in the base document. This document distinguishes two parts of packaging: where is comes from (upstream) and where is goes to (downstream).


The packaging is limited to the packaging that will be in the hands of the consumer. This is mainly primary and secondary packaging (film around bottle packs). Any tertiary packaging is not taken into account.


The eco-score document identifies 18 different materials and the lifecycle for each material. This is a rather large number. The EU statistics only report 5 kinds of material.


The upstream part describes the origin of the materials used in packaging. Is the material used recyclable? Has the material been re-used? Is the material part of a sustainable cycle?

The upstream formula is defined as:

score = A * 1 + B * 0.75 + C * 0.5 + D * 0
Le score amont correspond à la somme des points accordés. Il s'exprime sur 100. La somme des 4 origines possibles (A, B, C, D) doit toujours être égale à 100%.
A le % d'incorporation de matières premières recyclées
B le % de matière première renouvelable et durable
C le % de matière première renouvelable non durable
D le % de matière première non renouvelable

The A, B, C and D depend on the material. The actual values might be dependent on the country.


The downstream score is determined by the following formula:

score=A * 1 + B * 0.5 + C * 0

in which

  • A the percentage of the material that will be recycled
  • B the percentage of the material that is biodegradable
  • C the percentage of the material that will be incinerated or put into a tip

For each country these percentages might be different, depending how well the materials can be separated. Note that these are not the percentages of packagings produced and returned. The percentage mentioned for France seem on the positive side and assume no rejected streams.

Different recycling numbers go around, depending on the definition:

  • recycling percentage - the fraction of packing returned to the total distribution. It tells how effective the consumers return their packaging;

Individual countries

For each country we need to find the relevant up- and downstream data. This turns out to be hard. The data does not always seem to exist. There are however a lot of documents on recycling intentions.

The production of packaging is often an EU activity. So it is hard to find national numbers. Often they are also organised on a European level. Some players:

For countries of the EU, the Eurostat database is a good start for downstream statistics.


Some sources:


The list of upstream materials on the eco-score page, only has a few materials, which are affected by a recycling component (Acier, Aluminium, Verre, Carton/Papier, PET, plastique (autre)). For the others the given numbers can be transposed to other countries right away.

We need numbers for the usage of recycled materials in new packaging. So not the recycled percentage in general. To find these numbers I looked at the specific industries:

  1. paper - Cobelpa. The number seems to 59% (Utilisation rate (Recovered Paper utilisation as a % of paper & board production);
  2. glass - Glass Industry. The reuse percentage for glass packaging seems to be 50%. (the other recycled glass will be used for other glass products)
  3. metal - this can be 100% reused, without adding new material
  4. PET bottles - the recycled bottles seem to be used for low grade products (VRT). The article claims a 5% actual re-use.
Material Recycled (A) Durable (B) Non-durable Non-renewable
Metal 100% 0% 0% 0%
Glass 50% 0% 0% 50%
Paper/Carton 59% 0% 41% 0%
Bottles, PET 5% 0% 0% 95%
Other plastics 0% 0% 0% 100%


The first step is to find the players involved in recycling. For Belgium these are:

  • Fostplus - the organisation that organises the handling of household waste;
  • OVAM - a semi-government organisation that directs and checks recycling companies;
  • Statbel - the national institute for statistics. They have a section on packaging.

Fostplus recognises several material categories. The most recent numbers can be found on 2019. or here.

Unfortunately recycling numbers are not available for all categories. The separate recycling of all plastics is fairly recent (2018 and later). The year reports seem to preclude that only for the category other plastic, the recycling percentage is lower.

Material Recycling Container Comment
paper/carton 100% paper/carton recycling up to 5x
glass 100% glazen bol split in transparent and non-transparent
metal - steel 100% pmd
plastic bottles/tetrapak 100% pmd
other plastic 46% pmd all plastics combinedActivity report 2019



Various links on recycling (most in dutch):


  • Glass - the part of recycled glass in new glass depends on the glass colour (link): transparant (60%), green (95%) and brown (85%). The producer Maltha talks of 80% for brown (beer) bottles


  • PMD - of the plastics 8% is unusable (Recycling Network). Plastic Recycling Amsterdam is able to sift the plastic in four types (HDPE, PP, PET, PS) with 99% purity. They claim that the current sift process has 40% waste.


Packaging might display one or more logo's, which relate to the recyclability of packaging.

Green dot

Producers that display this logo on their packaging declare that they contribute to recycling industry depending on the packaging. It does not say anything of the packaging itself. In Belgium the producer pays a tarif based on the recyclability of the packaging (link).