Industry leaders hit out at plans to increase packaging targets

A government consultation to adopt higher packaging recycling targets has been criticised by a leading industry body, who believes the move will burden "an already struggling sector".

The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has said it is “deeply concerned” by Defra’s plans to set a plastics packaging recycling rate of 57% by 2017 under its consultation which closes at the end of this month.

Instead, the BPF wants to see a phased approach implemented whereby a gradual rise is set over the next five years to around the mid-30% mark.

The federation warned that significantly increased recycling targets “will only be achievable if the whole plastics packaging recycling supply is properly synchronised with an adequate strategy and route map”.

It claimed that the direct cost to plastics packaging producers and handlers would be an extra £70m over five years and would effectively amount to an “unfair tax” on the packaging sector.

The BPF’s packaging group chair Bruce Margetts said: “As plastics packaging producers we want to retain the maximum value in the packaging after it has done its primary job, but this target is unrealistic in its timescale and rate of increase.

“It appears to be a straightforward tax on producers rather than a realistic road-map for infrastructure and quality improvement. Production and filling of packaging could be lost from the UK.”

The BPF also believes that a standardised approach to council collection and recycling schemes for plastics is essential if the policy is to work.

According to federation’s recycling group chair Roger Baynham, the issue of packaging recovery notes (PRNs) needs resolving as it currently incentivises exports and drives down quality of plastics from material recovery facilities (MRFs).

He warned: “If we cannot grasp this nettle we will fail to future proof markets by creating a viable long term UK plastics recycling infrastructure.”

Maxine Perella

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