UK sets higher minimum targets for recycling packaging waste

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Packaging waste, European union

Higher minimum targets on packaging announced by the UK's
environmentalregulator will put greater pressure on food processors
to ship their products in environmentally-friendly materials.

The new annual targets in the packaging regulations, set until 2010, willrequire businesses to recycle and recover ever increasing amounts of paper,glass, aluminium, steel, plastic and wood packaging.

The targets were raised as part of a bid by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to meet new EU-wide requirements.

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

The packaging regulations have succeeded so far in raising packaging wasterecycling in the UK to just below 50 per cent at the end of 2004 from around 27per cent in 1997.

The UK's new targets fall under the country's Producer ResponsibilityObligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2005, which set recovery and recyclingtargets on businesses that are 'producers'. The class includes those thatmanufacture packaging or raw materials for packaging. It includes those who fillpackaging or sell packaging, import packaging or packaging materials or leasepackaging to other businesses.

Under the regulations recycling schemes and individual producers handlingmore than 500 tonnes of packaging will be required to send their operationalplans to Defra, or to Scotland's administrative body by 31 January, as well asto the relevant agency. There will be a specific template which businesses willhave to use to provide certain information, but they will not have to use thisin 2006.

Under the EU's Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive countries mustintroduce systems for the return and collection of used packaging to attain thetargets. By the end of 2008 a minimum of 60 per cent of packaging waste must berecovered or incinerated. Between 55 and 80 per cent of packaging waste must berecycled. For glass, paper and board the target is 60 per cent by weight. Formetals the target is 50 per cent, for plastics 22.5 per cent and for wood 15 percent.

Defra's amended targets for 2006 through to 2008 include an annual four tofive percentage point increase in the existing glass recycling targets. Targetsfor plastics packaging recovery would also be increased.

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

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

Greece, Ireland and Portugal will not be bound by the EU's packaging wastetargets 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.

The changes announced by Defra are subject to Parliamentary approval.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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