Policy measures for paper collection and recycling

IMPACTPaperRec / Best practice handbook  / Legislation, standardisation & incentives / Policy measures for paper collection and recycling


It would be unrealistic and even incorrect to say that the formulation of policy follows a clear and consistent pathway or route. Policy development is actually an involved and sometimes haphazard process that differs widely depending upon the concern being addressed. Sometimes it is a long and winding road with lots of detours and stops along the way. Despite the variation in policy process, there are some general steps (described below) that are common to its development. These are:

  • Selecting the desired objective.
  • Identifying the target of the objective.
  • Determining the pathway to reach that objective.
  • Designing the specific program or measure in respect of that goal.
  • Implementing the measure and assessing its impact.

Cost of future key measures

From the literature perception, there are two main approaches to estimate adaptation costs. The top-down approach evaluates total climate change impacts and the optimal adaptation level. However, it neglects the specific characteristics of concrete adaptation measures, which are important for evaluating the impacts of real adaptation policy. Furthermore, the top-down-approach can rarely distinguish between private and public adaptation – a question of high relevance for designing adaptation policy at EU level. The other stream of economic evaluation is the bottom-up-literature, often focusing on specific adaptation options in a specific period and location, and a certain political, societal and natural context. The costing exercise in this project extensively relied on this kind of literature, since only bottom-up studies allow a sufficiently detailed insight into the cost drivers of adaptation measures.

Current legislative status – Waste Directive

The present legislation related to paper for recycling defines general requirements. No specific environmental obligations apply for paper products. The packaging waste directive gives reference to the EN packaging standards which provide guidelines on how to implement essential packaging requirements for all (see section2.1.). When paper enters the waste stream, the general rules covered in the Waste Framework Directive apply, as for all other materials. Regulation concerning collection, sorting and use of paper for recycling is generally acceptable. Overregulation that could become a barrier to development should be avoided. Nevertheless, obstacles and weaknesses in the present regulation exist that need to be improved. Separate collection is widely interpreted.

Policy guidelines related to the Waste Framework Directive:

  • Legislation is lacking comprehensiveness; therefore, more emphasis on the closed loop re- cycling management is needed with clear responsibilities of all actors involved.
  • Recycling is adequately placed in the waste hierarchy of the Waste Framework Directive, but clear definitions and quality standards for determination of recyclability, including certification methods and guidelines, are needed at EU level.
  • The priority should be ensuring implementation of existing legislation in all countries and consistency between EU, national/regional regulation. Higher transparency is needed to ease the implementation
  • Improvement of the legislation is needed, but higher awareness of the recyclability issues is even more important. More investment in education, awareness raising and promotion of good practice in paper recycling among all actors involved is necessary, including improvement of general knowledge on the whole paper loop, definitions (i.e. the difference between recyclability, recycling and recycled paper) and the most important pre-conditions for the quality of the paper for recycling. Support for technological development should also be enforced.
  • A more “life-cycle thinking” approach should be applied, promoting sustainability targets among all actors in the chain; eco-design for the paper value chain to improve production towards better recyclable products, and for the waste management to ensure higher col- lection levels, proper sorting and access to quality paper for recycling.
  • Policy measures shall be strengthened to stimulate actors in the paper loop for more efficient recycling, i.e. rewarding tax and fees incentives, stimulating investment in technology development, strengthening market development initiatives (i.e. GPP) and others.

As in the incentives, the different policy measures considered in IMPACTPapeRec project can be grouped also into three categories: Legal and economic; Social and communicative; Technical and operational

1. Legal and Economic

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Legal obligations
– Establish criteria for recyclability
– Establish regional level target, not only national
– Increase recycling target
– Establishment of waste management plans: regularly and at different levels (national, regional, local; but also for companies, industries)
– Separate targets for recovery organization for material quotas from industries and from citizens
– Internal policies on recycling and separate collection at companies
– Separate collection obligation at EU level
– Green Public Procurement criteria for all public documents (Ex: ecolabel)
– Simplify Annex VII procedure
– Implement 5.01 in municipal tenders
Bans and restrictions
– Avoid overcapacity of residual waste treatment
– Landfill ban for recyclable paper
– Pay-As-You-Throw schemes
– Incineration taxes or fees
– Increase taxes for landfilling paper waste from municipal collection
– Boost local recycling/recovering companies authorized near generation (as long as it is not going against the market)
– Fines if citizen do not comply with rules
– Funding for collection of necessary data and information


2. Social and communicative:

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Communication campaigns and information channels
– Better communication, cooperation and transparency between stakeholders
– Platforms for discussion and exchange of good practices
– Guidelines and handbooks for Municipalities, Ministries and businesses
– Terminology for collection systems in different languages (dictionary)
– Include social groups (non-profit organizations) to legalise collectors
– Raise awareness and educate on PfR


3. Technical and operational:

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– Coordinated local solutions and policies will improve the collection rates
– Measurements methods of PfR quality
– Traceability of material
– Improve technology development for separating different waste fractions
– Make paper value chain more transparent
= Stop commingled collection