Plastic packaging recycling target proposal “ambitious” – industry

By Mark Astley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Recycling Uk

Plastic packaging recycling target proposal “ambitious” – industry
A UK packaging recycling proposal has been met with industry scepticism after suggesting almost doubling plastic recycling targets by 2017.

The UK government-favoured proposal, detailed in a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) consultation report, would see recycling targets for plastic packaging increase from 32% to 57% between 2012 and 2017 – a figure the European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment (Europen) has called “ambitious.”

The paper, Consultation on recovery and recycling targets for packaging waste for 2013, ​detailed the government plan, which would see plastic recycling targets increase from 606,085 tonnes for 2012 to 1,221,455 tonnes in 2017 – a 5% increase per year.

The increased target would almost double plastic recycling targets in the space of just five years.

Recovery over recycling

“Doubling the amount of plastic being recycled in five years is very ambitious, but the real question is whether local authorities have the ability to collect and process such a great amount,” ​said Europen’s Julian Carroll

“You have to look at economic factors as well as the environmental. Does it make sense economically to recycle this material, or does it make more sense to recover energy from the packaging.”

“At Europen, we would like to see more emphasis on the recovery of plastic materials than recycling,” ​added Carroll.

The government preferred option aims to deliver an overall UK recycling increase from 6,360,226 tonnes in 2012 to 7,132,211 tonnes in 2017.

“The option sees an increase in targets for steel, aluminium and plastic. Targets for these materials are being increased as they have the biggest environmental impact in terms of carbon saving through increased recycling,” ​said the consultation.

This will include the targeted increase in paper, glass, aluminium, steel, wood material and plastic – the latter expected to increase most.

“It’s all very well setting these targets, but they have to be doable,”​ said UK Packaging Federation CEO Dick Searle.

“A 5% annual improvement is a will be a stretch as a target for anyone in any area.”

Real environmental and economic benefits

The government preferred option would see steel recycling targets increase by 1% each year, from 71% in 2012 to 76% by 2017.

And between 2012 and 2017, aluminium recycling targets would be expected to increase by 3% per year, from 40% to 55%.

“These new, more ambitious targets will deliver real environmental and economic benefits. They will give a new incentive to companies to cut down on excess packaging and increase efforts to have their materials recorded,” ​said environmental secretary Caroline Spelman at the launch of the document.

The packaging recycling targets consultation will run for eight weeks, closing on 10 February 2012, with a final decision on the new targets announced in the UK 2012 Budget.

Related topics Processing & Packaging

Related news

Follow us


View more