UK freezes most packaging recycling targets until 2013

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cent United kingdom

Recycling targets for plastic and steel packaging were singled out for increase yesterday by the UK Government as it announced its new objectives fover the next two years.

The target for the recycling of plastic packing will rise from its present rate of 29 per cent to 32 per cent for both 2011 and 2012, while that for steel has been increased from 69 per cent to 71 per cent, said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The Packaging and Flexible Association (PAFA), a leading UK industry body, said it was disappointed by the move.

“I am surprised that the target has been upped despite the messages of caution we urged”,​ Barry Turner, PAFA CEO told “In our response to the Government consultation, we called for a cautious approach because of the risk of cross contamination in the recycling stream.”

He said the current infrastructure system was only just managing to cope with present recycling levels. Asked why he thought plastics had been singled out, he replied: “It almost seems as if the Government is trying to balance the numbers.”

The targets for the other major materials were all frozen at 2010 levels; paper card at 69.5 per cent; glass 81 per cent; aluminium 40 per cent; wood 22 per cent. Hitting these figures will see total recycling at 68.1 per cent, with total recovery hit 74 per cent.

The revised recycling goals for 2011 and 2012 had been set to ensure the UK continued to meet EU Directive targets and were subject to UK Parliamentary approval, said the Ministry. Objectives for the post 2012 period would be set in the wake of the Waste Review, the findings of which are due to be published in Spring 2011, it added.

PRO regs

Defra said it was also introducing technical changes designed to improve the operation the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007. These regulations impose a legal obligation on packaging producers (raw materials manufacturers, converters, packer/fillers, and retailers) to recycle and recover a proportion of the packaging they handle.

The body highlighted two deregulatory changes. The first would remove the requirement for independent audit. The other would allows smaller businesses to use a more simple mechanism to calculate their legal obligation, which will save industry an estimated £285,000-£371,000 annually, added Defra.

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