Predictive model for the Dutch post-consumer plastic packaging recycling system and implications for the circular economy

Marieke T. Brouwer, Eggo U. Thoden van Velzen*, Antje Augustinus, Han Soethoudt, Steven De Meester, Kim Ragaert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

145 Citations (Scopus)


The Dutch post-consumer plastic packaging recycling network has been described in detail (both on the level of packaging types and of materials) from the household potential to the polymeric composition of the recycled milled goods. The compositional analyses of 173 different samples of post-consumer plastic packaging from different locations in the network were combined to indicatively describe the complete network with material flow analysis, data reconciliation techniques and process technological parameters. The derived potential of post-consumer plastic packages in the Netherlands in 2014 amounted to 341Gg net (or 20.2kgnet.cap-1.a-1). The complete recycling network produced 75.2Gg milled goods, 28.1Gg side products and 16.7Gg process waste. Hence the net recycling chain yield for post-consumer plastic packages equalled 30%. The end-of-life fates for 35 different plastic packaging types were resolved. Additionally, the polymeric compositions of the milled goods and the recovered masses were derived with this model. These compositions were compared with experimentally determined polymeric compositions of recycled milled goods, which confirmed that the model predicts these compositions reasonably well. Also the modelled recovered masses corresponded reasonably well with those measured experimentally. The model clarified the origin of polymeric contaminants in recycled plastics, either sorting faults or packaging components, which gives directions for future improvement measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-85
JournalWaste Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Circular economy
  • Compositional analysis
  • Mechanical recycling
  • Plastic packaging
  • Post-consumer waste
  • Sorting


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