15 December 2023
A new Norwegian study confirms that complementarity between reuse and recycling is the way to go for optimal environmental benefits.
A lifecycle assessment on reusable and single-use recycled packaging systems has been published by NORSUS (Norwegian Institute for Sustainability Research), with conclusions relevant to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) proposal.
Norway has a 20-year track record in running a highly effective deposit and return system (DRS). NORSUS’ study compared the environmental footprint of the Norwegian DRS with reuse to assess under what circumstances each system becomes environmentally preferable.
The researchers found that Norway’s highly effective recycling system performed better than all reusable packaging models. This is due, in large part, to the increase transport and carbon footprint associated with reusable packaging.
The study concludes:
This study shows that the single-use system performs better than the reuse system for the three impact categories; climate change, cumulative energy demand (CED) and terrestrial acidification, while the reuse system performs best for the impact category mineral resource scarcity.
This study further expands the evidence base in support of the view that complementarity between reuse and high-performing collection and recycling should remain embedded in the PPWR. This provides the flexibility for Member States to minimise their environmental impact, without diluting collective ambitions.