Among the measures published this week are proposals to ensure that packaging that is leased out, such as pallets and crates, is fully obligated along with imported transit packaging.
In addition, the government wants to ensure that franchisors, pub companies and other businesses with similar franchising or licensing arrangements, are obligated for the packaging used by them and by their franchisees, tenants and others.
The impact of these proposals would be to spread the recycling burden more equitably amongst a wider group of businesses and, by obligating a greater proportion of the total packaging waste in the waste stream, allow targets to be kept lower than they might otherwise be, spreading costs more equitably.
In any case, this week's consultation paper also proposes to simplify the data provision requirement for smaller obligated businesses (i.e. those handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging and with turnover between £2 and £5 million), which would reduce their costs.
The producer responsibility obligations (packaging waste) regulations and the parallel statutory instruments in the devolved administrations place obligations on all businesses with an annual turnover in excess of £2m and who handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging, to recover and recycle specified tonnages of packaging waste each year, based on the packaging that goes through their business. A data form has to be completed each year and submitted to the relevant agency.
Some packaging has escaped obligation up until now, and the UK government is proposing to correct that and ensure that the maximum amount of packaging is within the regulations, and can contribute to keeping targets, and therefore costs, as low as possible, while allowing the UK to continue to meet the recycling and recovery targets in the EC directives on packaging and packaging waste.
The UK has made significant progress in waste recycling over recent years, though public awareness still lags behind other EU nations such as Germany. Many in the packaging industry would like to address this by increasing both recycling and engaging consumers more to bring more packaging out of the domestic waste stream.
Steel - and for that matter aluminium - manufacturers therefore want to see more curbside recycling collection points established, and believe that they have the backing of local authorities in this respect. The advantage of this is that consumers become an active part of the recycling operation, and because steel can be magnetically removed, it can be deposited alongside other metals.
The producer responsibility obligations (packaging waste) regulations 1997 set recovery and recycling targets on businesses that are producers in order to enable the UK to meet its recovery and recycling targets in the EC directive on packaging and packaging waste 94/62/EC.
New, higher recovery and recycling targets to be met by 2008 were set in the new directive on packaging and packaging waste directive 2004/12/EC and the packaging regulations were amended in 2003 (2003 SI No. 3294) to set the business targets necessary to enable the UK to meet these directive targets in 2008.
Producers and schemes calculate their tonnage recovery and recycling obligations on the basis of the packaging that their business handles in the previous year - this obligated packaging is reported each year to the relevant agency. Producers and schemes demonstrate compliance with their recovery and recycling obligations by purchasing packaging waste recovery notes (PRNs) and/or packaging waste export recovery notes (PERNs) from reprocessors and exporters respectively.
These PRNs and PERNs are issued in relation to tonnages of UK packaging waste delivered for reprocessing/exporting.