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European recovery of post-consumer plastic waste through recycling or waste-to-energy incineration improved steadily in 1995, according to new figures released by the Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe.

APME credited national recycling laws and improved collection programs for the boost.

APME revealed that more than a quarter of the estimated 35.3 billion pounds of waste plastics across all sectors, or 8.83 billion pounds, was reused, either through mechanical recycling, feedstock recycling or incineration for energy recovery.

The figures, the latest released by Brussels, Belgium-based APME, show that recovery grew from 7.28 billion pounds in 1993 to 7.5 billion pounds a year later.

``The increase in plastics recovery is encouraging, indicating that national initiatives and improved access to collection points are beginning to make a valuable contribution to recovery levels,'' said Fred Mader, APME deputy director.

About 9.2 percent of the total waste plastic was recycled through mechanical or feedstock methods. Waste-to-energy incineration made up the remaining 16.8 percent.

In volume, energy recovery remains well ahead with nearly 5.95 billion pounds, while waste plastics recovered by mechanical recycling totaled 2.69 billion pounds. Feedstock recycling used up less than 220.5 million pounds.

``The plastics industry's research and development programs to improve recovery through the various integrated waste management options, across the range of sectors, is beginning to yield positive results,'' APME said in a statement.

The statistics also show that mechanical recycling is strongest in the packaging and agricultural sectors. Recycling in the automotive sector, at 138.9 million pounds, picked up from 4.7 percent in 1994 to 7.1 percent in 1995.

The use of incineration without energy recovery continues to fall, down 5.8 percent from 2.45 billion pounds in 1994, to 2.31 billion pounds in 1995.

Plastics represents 8 percent of all household waste in the region, by weight, the study said.

Of plastics household waste by weight, the largest element was low and linear low density polyethylene, at 23 percent, followed by polypropylene (18.5 percent) and high density PE (17.3 percent). PET waste represented 8.5 percent.

The data is contained in ``Plastics Recovery in Perspective 1995,'' APME's seventh year-on-year study of plastics consumption and recovery in Western Europe.