UK to increase targets for recycling packaging waste

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Packaging waste, European union

The UK's food processors will come under greater pressure to ship
their products in environmentally-friendly materials after
government announced a plan to increase minimum recycling targets
for glass and plastics packaging.

However those putting their products in metal and paper packaging will get some relief as Defra​, the UK's environmental agency, proposes tolower targets for those kinds of materials.

The agency yesterday launched a second consultation on the proposed measures, driven by the need to ensure the UK meets packaging recovery targets set by the EU's tough new packaging directive.

New requirements set by the European Commission last year roughly double packaging recycling targets for the bloc's 25 members. They will put extra cost pressures on the food industry, which is amajor producer of packaging waste.

The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive​ of 1994 as revised last year in 2004, covers allpackaging placed on the market in the EU and all packaging waste, whether it is used or released at the industrial, commercial, office, shop, service, household or any other level, regardless of thematerial used.

Countries must introduce systems for the return and collection of used packaging to attain the targets. Bu the end of 2008 a minimum of 60 per cent of packaging waste must be recovered orincinerated. Between 55 and 80 per cent of packaging waste must be recycled. For glass, paper and board the target is 60 per cent by weight. For metals the target is 50 per cent, for plastics 22.5 percent and for wood 15 per cent.

Defra's amended targets for 2006 through to 2008 include an annual four to five percentage point increase in the existing glass recycling targets. Targets for plastics packaging recovery would alsobe increased. Targets for metal and paper packaging waste recycling would be reduced slightly.

Defra noted that under the previous recovery targets the country would not have achieved the directive's requirements for glass and plastics. Glass would have achieved a 57.2 per cent recyclingrate by 2008 rather than the required 60 per cent. Plastic packaging recover would have achieved a 22 per cent rate rather than the 22.5 per cent requirement.

The UK's system sets recovery and recycling targets for businesses that are 'producers'. The regulations place obligations on all businesses with an annual turnover in excess of £2m and who handlemore 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.

Producers and schemes demonstrate compliance with their recovery and recycling obligations by purchasing packaging waste recovery notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recovery notes (PERNs) fromreprocessors and exporters. The PRNs and PERNs are issued in relation to tonnages of UK packaging waste delivered for reprocessing or export.

Defra plans to introduce the new targets by 1 January 2006. The deadline for responses to the proposals is 3 October.

The UK has managed to achieve a 49.6 per cent recycling rate on packaging waste, according to statistics produced by Defra. The rate is an increase of 22 per cent over the previous year.

Greece, Ireland and Portugal will not be bound by the EU's packaging waste targets until 2011. The EU's ten new member states - the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary,Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia - have until the end of 2012 to meet the targets.

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