an official journal of: published by:
an official journal of: published by:
Editor in Chief: RAFFAELLO COSSU


  • Jakob Lederer - Institute of Chemical, Environmental and Bioscience Engineering, Technische Universität Wien, Austria
  • Andreas Bartl - Institute of Chemical, Environmental and Bioscience Engineering, Technische Universitat Wien, Austria
  • Dominik Blasenbauer - Institute of Chemical, Environmental and Bioscience Engineering, Technische Universität Wien, Austria
  • Gisela Breslmayer - Institute of Chemical, Environmental and Bioscience Engineering, Technische Universität Wien, Austria
  • Lea Gritsch - Institute of Chemical, Environmental and Bioscience Engineering, Technische Universität Wien, Austria
  • Simon Hofer - Institute of Chemical, Environmental and Bioscience Engineering, Technische Universität Wien, Austria
  • Anna-Maria Lipp - Institute of Chemical, Environmental and Bioscience Engineering, Technische Universität Wien, Austria
  • Julia Mühl - Institute of Chemical, Environmental and Bioscience Engineering, Technische Universität Wien, Austria

Released under CC BY-NC-ND

Copyright: © 2022 CISA Publisher


Through the Circular Economy Package, the EU aims to reduce material imports and environmental impacts of waste management. Ambitious recycling targets should help to achieve these objectives. As a response, the waste industry developed technical and organizational solutions that can intervene at different stages of a waste management system in order to increase the recovery of recycling materials, starting with improved separate collection over the use of modern material recovery facilities up to the enhanced treatment of waste incineration ashes. The large question is how each of these options can contribute to increase recycling rates to achieve a circular economy. By reviewing case studies as presented in the most recent literature published since the year 2010 from European countries on the recycling of post-consumer packaging waste of glass, metals, paper, and plastics, this study contributes to answer this question. In the first stage, the review found 644 articles matching with the search terms and published since the year 2010. Of these, 46 remained for an in-depth analysis, since 319 did not present case studies as defined in the scope of this article. The articles reviewed provide a good overview on the state of knowledge on increasing recycling of post-consumer packaging waste by improved separate collection, material recovery facilities, and waste incineration bottom ash treatment. Additional information and case studies, however, are required, particularly large-scale experiments to test new separate collection systems, large-scale with different feedstock material at the most-modern material recovery facilities and waste incineration bottom ash treatment plants.


Editorial History

  • Received: 21 Jan 2022
  • Revised: 08 May 2022
  • Accepted: 09 Jun 2022
  • Available online: 30 Jun 2022


Abis, M., Bruno, M., Kuchta, K., Simon, F.-G., Grönholm, R., Hoppe, M., & Fiore, S. (2020). Assessment of the Synergy between Recycling and Thermal Treatments in Municipal Solid Waste Management in Europe. Energies, 13(23), 6412.

Allegrini, E., Maresca, A., Olsson, M. E., Holtze, M. S., Boldrin, A., & Astrup, T. F. (2014). Quantification of the resource recovery potential of municipal solid waste incineration bottom ashes. Waste Management, 34(9), 1627-1636.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2014.05.003

Antonopoulos, I., Faraca, G., & Tonini, D. (2021). Recycling of post-consumer plastic packaging waste in the EU: Recovery rates, material flows, and barriers. Waste Management, 126, 694-705.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2021.04.002

Ardolino, F., Berto, C., & Arena, U. (2017). Environmental performances of different configurations of a material recovery facility in a life cycle perspective. Waste Management, 68, 662-676.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2017.05.039

Assi, A., Bilo, F., Zanoletti, A., Ponti, J., Valsesia, A., La Spina, R., . . . Bontempi, E. (2020). Review of the Reuse Possibilities Concerning Ash Residues from Thermal Process in a Medium-Sized Urban System in Northern Italy. Sustainability, 12(10), 4193.

Astrup, T., Muntoni, A., Polettini, A., Pomi, R., Van Gerven, T., & Van Zomeren, A. (2016). Chapter 24 - Treatment and Reuse of Incineration Bottom Ash. In M. N. V. Prasad & K. Shih (Eds.), Environmental Materials and Waste (pp. 607-645). Academic Press.
DOI 10.1016/B978-0-12-803837-6.00024-X

Bertanza, G., Mazzotti, S., Gomez, F. H., Nenci, M., Vaccari, M., & Zetera, S. F. (2021). Implementation of circular economy in the management of municipal solid waste in an Italian medium-sized city: A 30-years lasting history. Waste Management, 126, 821-831.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2021.04.017

Biganzoli, L., & Grosso, M. (2013). Aluminium recovery from waste incineration bottom ash, andits oxidation level. Waste Management & Research, 31(9), 954-959.
DOI 10.1177/0734242x13493956

Biganzoli, L., Grosso, M., & Forte, F. (2014). Aluminium Mass Balance in Waste Incineration and Recovery Potential From the Bottom Ash: A Case Study. Waste and Biomass Valorization, 5(1), 139-145.
DOI 10.1007/s12649-013-9208-0

Biganzoli, L., Ilyas, A., Praagh, M. v., Persson, K. M., & Grosso, M. (2013). Aluminium recovery vs. hydrogen production as resource recovery options for fine MSWI bottom ash fraction. Waste Management, 33(5), 1174-1181.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2013.01.037

Blasenbauer, D., Huber, F., Lederer, J., Quina, M., Blanc-Biscarat, D., Bogush, A., . . . Fellner, J. (2020). Legal situation and current practice of waste incineration bottom ash utilisation in Europe. Waste Management, 102, 868-883

Bösenhofer, M., Purgar, A., & Winter, F. (2015). The Role of Fluidized Bed Technology for Waste to Energy, Its Current Status and Potential - An Austrian Perspective. 22nd International Conference on Fluidized Bed Conversion, Turku (Finland),

Brouwer, M., Picuno, C., Thoden van Velzen, E. U., Kuchta, K., De Meester, S., & Ragaert, K. (2019). The impact of collection portfolio expansion on key performance indicators of the Dutch recycling system for Post-Consumer Plastic Packaging Waste, a comparison between 2014 and 2017. Waste Management, 100, 112-121.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2019.09.012

Brouwer, M. T., Thoden van Velzen, E. U., Augustinus, A., Soethoudt, H., De Meester, S., & Ragaert, K. (2018). Predictive model for the Dutch post-consumer plastic packaging recycling system and implications for the circular economy. Waste Management, 71, 62-85.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2017.10.034

Bruckner, M., Giljum, S., Lutz, C., & Wiebe, K. S. (2012). Materials embodied in international trade – Global material extraction and consumption between 1995 and 2005. Global Environmental Change, 22(3), 568-576.
DOI 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.03.011

Bruno, M., Abis, M., Kuchta, K., Simon, F.-G., Grönholm, R., Hoppe, M., & Fiore, S. (2021). Material flow, economic and environmental assessment of municipal solid waste incineration bottom ash recycling potential in Europe. Journal of Cleaner Production, 317, 128511.
DOI 10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.128511

Chimenos, J. M., Segarra, M., Fernández, M. A., & Espiell, F. (1999). Characterization of the bottom ash in municipal solid waste incinerator. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 64(3), 211-222.
DOI 10.1016/S0304-3894(98)00246-5

Cimpan, C., Maul, A., Jansen, M., Pretz, T., & Wenzel, H. (2015). Central sorting and recovery of MSW recyclable materials: A review of technological state-of-the-art, cases, practice and implications for materials recycling. Journal of Environmental Management, 156, 181-199.
DOI 10.1016/j.jenvman.2015.03.025

Cimpan, C., Maul, A., Wenzel, H., & Pretz, T. (2016). Techno-economic assessment of central sorting at material recovery facilities – the case of lightweight packaging waste. Journal of Cleaner Production, 112, 4387-4397.
DOI 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.09.011

D'Onza, G., Greco, G., & Allegrini, M. (2016). Full cost accounting in the analysis of separated waste collection efficiency: A methodological proposal. Journal of Environmental Management, 167, 59-65.
DOI 10.1016/j.jenvman.2015.09.002

Dahlbo, H., Poliakova, V., Mylläri, V., Sahimaa, O., & Anderson, R. (2018). Recycling potential of post-consumer plastic packaging waste in Finland. Waste Management, 71, 52-61.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2017.10.033

Del Cimmuto, A., Mannocci, A., Ribatti, D., Boccia, A., & La Torre, G. (2014). Impact on knowledge and behaviour of the general population of two different methods of solid waste management: An explorative cross-sectional study. Waste Management & Research, 32(6), 556-561.
DOI 10.1177/0734242x14536461

del Valle-Zermeño, R., Gómez-Manrique, J., Giro-Paloma, J., Formosa, J., & Chimenos, J. M. (2017). Material characterization of the MSWI bottom ash as a function of particle size. Effects of glass recycling over time. Science of The Total Environment, 581-582, 897-905.
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.01.047

Dias, N., Máximo, A., Belo, N., & Carvalho, M. T. (2014). Packaging glass contained in the heavy residual fraction refused by Portuguese Mechanical and Biological Treatment plants. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 85, 98-105.
DOI 10.1016/j.resconrec.2013.09.014

Dijkgraaf, E., & Gradus, R. (2020). Post-collection Separation of Plastic Waste: Better for the Environment and Lower Collection Costs? Environmental and Resource Economics, 77(1), 127-142.
DOI 10.1007/s10640-020-00457-6

Dou, X., Ren, F., Nguyen, M. Q., Ahamed, A., Yin, K., Chan, W. P., & Chang, V. W.-C. (2017). Review of MSWI bottom ash utilization from perspectives of collective characterization, treatment and existing application. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 79, 24-38.
DOI 10.1016/j.rser.2017.05.044

Directive (EU) 2018/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste, (2018)

Feil, A., Pretz, T., Jansen, M., & Thoden van Velzen, E. U. (2017). Separate collection of plastic waste, better than technical sorting from municipal solid waste? Waste Management & Research, 35(2), 172-180.
DOI 10.1177/0734242x16654978

Fellner, J., Laner, D., Warrings, R., Schustereder, K., & Lederer, J. (2018). Potential Impacts of the EU circular economy package on the utilization of secondary resources. Detritus, 2, 16

Fellner, J., & Lederer, J. (2020). Recycling rate – The only practical metric for a circular economy? Waste Management, 113, 319-320.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2020.06.013

Gadaleta, G., De Gisi, S., Binetti, S. M. C., & Notarnicola, M. (2020). Outlining a comprehensive techno-economic approach to evaluate the performance of an advanced sorting plant for plastic waste recovery. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 143, 248-261.
DOI 10.1016/j.psep.2020.07.008

Gallardo, A., Bovea, M. D., Colomer, F. J., & Prades, M. (2012). Analysis of collection systems for sorted household waste in Spain. Waste Management, 32(9), 1623-1633.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2012.04.006

Gallardo, A., Bovea, M. D., Mendoza, F. J. C., & Prades, M. (2012). Evolution of sorted waste collection: a case study of Spanish cities. Waste Management & Research, 30(8), 859-863.
DOI 10.1177/0734242x12443584

Gökelma, M., Vallejo-Olivares, A., & Tranell, G. (2021). Characteristic properties and recyclability of the aluminium fraction of MSWI bottom ash. Waste Management, 130, 65-73.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2021.05.012

Griffiths, A. J., Williams, K. P., & Owen, N. (2010). Engineering value recovery from municipal solid waste. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part C: Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science, 224(3), 559-570.
DOI 10.1243/09544062jmes1857

Grosso, M., Biganzoli, L., & Rigamonti, L. (2011). A quantitative estimate of potential aluminium recovery from incineration bottom ashes. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 55(12), 1178-1184.
DOI 10.1016/j.resconrec.2011.08.001

Gundupalli, S. P., Hait, S., & Thakur, A. (2017). A review on automated sorting of source-separated municipal solid waste for recycling. Waste Management, 60, 56-74.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2016.09.015

Haupt, M., Vadenbo, C., Zeltner, C., & Hellweg, S. (2017). Influence of Input-Scrap Quality on the Environmental Impact of Secondary Steel Production. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 21(2), 391-401.
DOI 10.1111/jiec.12439

Haupt, M., Waser, E., Würmli, J. C., & Hellweg, S. (2018). Is there an environmentally optimal separate collection rate? Waste Management, 77, 220-224.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2018.03.050

Holm, O., & Simon, F.-G. (2017). Innovative treatment trains of bottom ash (BA) from municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) in Germany. Waste Management, 59, 229-236.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2016.09.004

Hu, Y., Bakker, M. C. M., & de Heij, P. G. (2011). Recovery and distribution of incinerated aluminum packaging waste. Waste Management, 31(12), 2422-2430.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2011.07.021

Huber, F. (2020). Modelling of material recovery from waste incineration bottom ash. Waste Management, 105, 61-72.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2020.01.034

Huber, F., Blasenbauer, D., Aschenbrenner, P., & Fellner, J. (2020). Complete determination of the material composition of municipal solid waste incineration bottom ash. Waste Management, 102, 677-685.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2019.11.036

Ip, K., Testa, M., Raymond, A., Graves, S. C., & Gutowski, T. (2018). Performance evaluation of material separation in a material recovery facility using a network flow model. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 131, 192-205.
DOI 10.1016/j.resconrec.2017.11.021

Istrate, I.-R., Galvez-Martos, J.-L., & Dufour, J. (2021). The impact of incineration phase-out on municipal solid waste landfilling and life cycle environmental performance: Case study of Madrid, Spain. Science of The Total Environment, 755, 142537.
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142537

Istrate, I.-R., Medina-Martos, E., Galvez-Martos, J.-L., & Dufour, J. (2021). Assessment of the energy recovery potential of municipal solid waste under future scenarios. Applied Energy, 293, 116915.
DOI 10.1016/j.apenergy.2021.116915

Janz, A., Günther, M., & Bilitewski, B. (2011). Reaching cost-saving effects by a mixed collection of light packagings together with residual household waste? Waste Management & Research, 29(9), 982-990.
DOI 10.1177/0734242x11416156

Kalmykova, Y., Sadagopan, M., & Rosado, L. (2018). Circular economy – From review of theories and practices to development of implementation tools. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 135, 190-201.
DOI 10.1016/j.resconrec.2017.10.034

Keller, R. (2009). Müll–die gesellschaftliche Konstruktion des Wertvollen. Springer

Kirk, A. R. M., & Mokaddam, Z. B. (2021a). A fair CoP? MRF sampling, testing and reporting: Big problems caused by small particles. Part 1: Compliance difficulties and data validity. Waste Management & Research, 39(1), 130-139.
DOI 10.1177/0734242x20941099

Kirk, A. R. M., & Mokaddam, Z. B. (2021b). A fair CoP? MRF sampling, testing and reporting: Big problems caused by small particles. Part 2: Operational realities and financial implications. Waste Management & Research, 39(1), 140-145.
DOI 10.1177/0734242x20941098

Korhonen, J., Honkasalo, A., & Seppälä, J. (2018). Circular Economy: The Concept and its Limitations. Ecological Economics, 143, 37-46.
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.06.041

Leckner, B., & Lind, F. (2020). Combustion of municipal solid waste in fluidized bed or on grate – A comparison. Waste Management, 109, 94-108.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2020.04.050

Lederer, J., Ongatai, A., Odeda, D., Rashid, H., Otim, S., & Nabaasa, M. (2015). The generation of stakeholder's knowledge for solid waste management planning through action research: A case study from Busia, Uganda. Habitat International, 50, 99-109.
DOI 10.1016/j.habitatint.2015.08.015

Lederer, J., Gassner, A., Kleemann, F., & Fellner, J. (2020). Potentials for a circular economy of mineral construction materials and demolition waste in urban areas: a case study from Vienna. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 161, 104942.
DOI 10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.104942

Mastellone, M. L., Cremiato, R., Zaccariello, L., & Lotito, R. (2017). Evaluation of performance indicators applied to a material recovery facility fed by mixed packaging waste. Waste Management, 64, 3-11.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2017.02.030

Mehr, J., Haupt, M., Skutan, S., Morf, L., Raka Adrianto, L., Weibel, G., & Hellweg, S. (2021). The environmental performance of enhanced metal recovery from dry municipal solid waste incineration bottom ash. Waste Management, 119, 330-341.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2020.09.001

Miranda, R., Monte, M. C., & Blanco, A. (2013). Analysis of the quality of the recovered paper from commingled collection systems. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 72, 60-66.
DOI 10.1016/j.resconrec.2012.12.007

Mwanza, B. G., Mbohwa, C., & Telukdarie, A. (2018). The Influence of Waste Collection Systems on Resource Recovery: A Review. Procedia Manufacturing, 21, 846-853.
DOI 10.1016/j.promfg.2018.02.192

Pedersen, J. T. S., & Manhice, H. (2020). The hidden dynamics of household waste separation: An anthropological analysis of user commitment, barriers, and the gaps between a waste system and its users. Journal of Cleaner Production, 242, 116285.
DOI 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.03.281

Picuno, C., Van Eygen, E., Brouwer, M. T., Kuchta, K., & Thoden van Velzen, E. U. (2021). Factors Shaping the Recycling Systems for Plastic Packaging Waste—A Comparison between Austria, Germany and The Netherlands. Sustainability, 13(12), 6772.

Połomka, J., Jędrczak, A., & Myszograj, S. (2020). Risk and Opportunity of Using Plastics from Waste Collected in a Yellow Bag. Polymers, 12(8), 1815.

Pomberger, R., Sarc, R., & Lorber, K. E. (2017). Dynamic visualisation of municipal waste management performance in the EU using Ternary Diagram method. Waste Management, 61, 558-571.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.018

Purgar, A., Winter, F., Blasenbauer, D., Hartmann, S., Fellner, J., Lederer, J., & Rechberger, H. (2016). Main drivers for integrating zinc recovery from fly ashes into the Viennese waste incineration cluster. Fuel Processing Technology, 141, 243-248.
DOI 10.1016/j.fuproc.2015.10.003

Romano, G., Rapposelli, A., & Marrucci, L. (2019). Improving waste production and recycling through zero-waste strategy and privatization: An empirical investigation. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 146, 256-263.
DOI 10.1016/j.resconrec.2019.03.030

Rousta, K., Bolton, K., & Dahlén, L. (2016). A Procedure to Transform Recycling Behavior for Source Separation of Household Waste. Recycling, 1(1), 147-165.

Rousta, K., Ordoñez, I., Bolton, K., & Dahlén, L. (2017). Support for designing waste sorting systems: A mini review. Waste Management & Research, 35(11), 1099-1111.
DOI 10.1177/0734242x17726164

Seyring, N., Dollhofer, M., Weißenbacher, J., Bakas, I., & McKinnon, D. (2016). Assessment of collection schemes for packaging and other recyclable waste in European Union-28 Member States and capital cities. Waste Management & Research, 34(9), 947-956.
DOI 10.1177/0734242x16650516

Seyring, N., Dollhofer, M., Weißenbacher, J., Herczeg, M., McKinnon, D., & Bakas, I. (2015). Assessment of separate collection schemes in the 28 capitals of the EU

Strasser, S. (2000). Waste and want: A social history of trash. Macmillan

Šyc, M., Krausová, A., Kameníková, P., Šomplák, R., Pavlas, M., Zach, B., . . . Punčochář, M. (2018). Material analysis of Bottom ash from waste-to-energy plants. Waste Management, 73, 360-366.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2017.10.045

Šyc, M., Simon, F. G., Hykš, J., Braga, R., Biganzoli, L., Costa, G., . . . Grosso, M. (2020). Metal recovery from incineration bottom ash: State-of-the-art and recent developments. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 393, 122433.
DOI 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.122433

Tallentire, C. W., & Steubing, B. (2020). The environmental benefits of improving packaging waste collection in Europe. Waste Management, 103, 426-436.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2019.12.045

Thoden van Velzen, E. U., Brouwer, M. T., & Feil, A. (2019). Collection behaviour of lightweight packaging waste by individual households and implications for the analysis of collection schemes. Waste Management, 89, 284-293.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2019.04.021

Van Caneghem, J., De Coster, E., Vandenbergh, K., De Broyer, S., Lambrix, N., & Weemaels, L. (2019). Closing the household metal packaging cycle through recovery of scrap from waste-to-energy bottom ash: The case study of Flanders. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 144, 115-122.
DOI 10.1016/j.resconrec.2019.01.028

Van Eygen, E., Laner, D., & Fellner, J. (2018). Circular economy of plastic packaging: Current practice and perspectives in Austria. Waste Management, 72, 55-64.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2017.11.040

Verbinnen, B., Billen, P., Van Caneghem, J., & Vandecasteele, C. (2017). Recycling of MSWI Bottom Ash: A Review of Chemical Barriers, Engineering Applications and Treatment Technologies. Waste and Biomass Valorization, 8(5), 1453-1466.
DOI 10.1007/s12649-016-9704-0

Wang, D., Tang, Y.-T., Long, G., Higgitt, D., He, J., & Robinson, D. (2020). Future improvements on performance of an EU landfill directive driven municipal solid waste management for a city in England. Waste Management, 102, 452-463.
DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2019.11.009

Warrings, R., & Fellner, J. (2019). Management of aluminium packaging waste in selected European countries. Waste Management & Research, 37(4), 357-364.
DOI 10.1177/0734242X19832368

Warrings, R., & Fellner, J. (2021). How to increase recycling rates. The case of aluminium packaging in Austria. Waste Management & Research, 39(1), 53-62.
DOI 10.1177/0734242x20947161

Weißenbach, T., Graf, J., Pomberger, R., & Sarc, R. (2020). Calculation of the additional recycling potential in the European Union by implementing the Circular Economy Package. Environ Waste Management Recycling. 2020; 3 (2): 1-9. Environ Waste Management Recycling 2020 Volume 3 Issue, 2

Wilson, D. C. (2007). Development drivers for waste management. Waste Management & Research, 25(3), 198-207.
DOI 10.1177/0734242x07079149

Xevgenos, D., Papadaskalopoulou, C., Panaretou, V., Moustakas, K., & Malamis, D. (2015). Success Stories for Recycling of MSW at Municipal Level: A Review. Waste and Biomass Valorization, 6(5), 657-684.
DOI 10.1007/s12649-015-9389-9

Zhu, J., Wei, Z., Luo, Z., Yu, L., & Yin, K. (2021). Phase changes during various treatment processes for incineration bottom ash from municipal solid wastes: A review in the application-environment nexus. Environmental Pollution, 287, 117618.
DOI 10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117618