ETC/CE Report 2023/3 Headache fractions in mixed municipal waste

22 Feb 2023

Mona Arnold, Margareta Wahlström, Robin Gilli, Dirk Nelen, Shane Colgan

The report analyses eight categories of products which are considered challenging to manage and currently often end up in residual municipal waste. These products are disposable diapers, beverage cups, e-textiles, products made of or containing EPS and PFAS, furniture, mattresses, and multi-material children’s gadgets and toys. The key factors hindering reuse or recycling of these products were found to include consumer attitudes; complex structures and materials; and the presence of substances harmful to health or the environment. Many of the issues with these products would be resolved through consideration of end-of-life issues at the design stage by reducing the complexity of products and favouring non-toxic materials. Extended producer responsibility schemes have been shown to be effective in dealing with problem wastes and their increased use would promote more circularity, including greater durability and repair.