Packaging Regulations review leads to tougher targets

Tougher packaging recovery and recycling targets for the next two years were announced by Environment Minister Michael Meacher in February 1999, following a wide-ranging review of the Packaging Regulations.

He said: “I have considered the conclusions of the Advisory Committee on Packaging together with other representations made to me in the course of the review. I propose to make a number of changes. As these changes are intended to take effect this year, measures will be introduced as soon as possible.”

Recovery and recycling targets in 1999 and 2000 will be increased as follows:

  1999 recovery target increased from 38% to 43% and the recycling target from 7% to 10%;

  2000 recovery target increased from 43% to 45% and the recycling target from 11% to 13%.

  Recovery and recycling targets for 2001 will remain unchanged for now at 52% recovery and 16% recycling.

Originally, companies with a financial turnover of more than £1m would have to register under the scheme in 2000. Now, only those businesses with a financial turnover of more than £2m will come within the scope of the revised Regulations. Both businesses and compliance schemes will be required to register by a new date of 7 April each year.

For businesses choosing to register with one of the regulators, the Agency fee has gone up from £750 to £900 with effect from this year. The increase is designed to underpin a rigorous monitoring and enforcement policy and deter ‘free riders’. Meacher will also be asking Agencies to publish their monitoring programmes and report half yearly on number, size and sector of businesses, for data provision, and for compliance with the recovery and recycling obligations.

To help the collection of more accurate data, an improved data form is proposed for immediate use, and for smaller businesses obligated in 2000 for the first time, the DETR has commissioned work to develop ‘off-the-shelf’ data forms to simplify collecting and providing data.

Meacher said he accepted the changes to the percentage activity obligations recommended by the Advisory Committee, but said wider consultation would be necessary first. He is proposing a reduction of the convertor obligation from 11% to 9%; an increase of 1% in packer/filler from 36% to 37%; and an increase in retailer obligation from 47% to 48%. An independent audit of net compliance costs of all sectors will be carried out in 1999.

The wholesaler obligation planned for 2000, under which ‘wholesalers’ were to take the selling obligation for the small businesses they supply, will be removed from the Regulations.

To tap into the potential for increased involvement of consumers in business efforts to recover packaging waste, Meacher agreed with the Review Committee that obligated businesses which have most contact with consumers be required to provide information to consumers about the role they can play. A similar requirement will be placed on compliance schemes. Meacher also stressed the importance of progress on waste minimisation, urging industry to develop indicators against which performance can be measured.

While remaining concerned that not enough is being done to ensure that sufficient household packaging waste will be available to contribute to the achievement of the Directive targets in 2001, Meacher has taken the advice of the Committee and Environment Agency to avoid creating an even more complex system and agreed not to introduce separate targets for household waste this year. Further research will continue to look at ways to improve this area.

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