UK business faces increased targets for packaging recovery

Proposals to increase the 2002 targets for recovery of packaging waste by UK businesses have been published, preparing the UK’s ground for an expected major hike of European targets when the current revision of the EC Packaging and Packaging Waste directive is announced.

In the Consultation Paper on Recovery and Recycling Targets for Packaging Waste in 2002 – The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulation, published on 19 September, the government is proposing to increase the business recovery target rate from 56% to 61%, and maintain the material-specific recycling target at 18%, based on the advice of the Advisory Committee on Packaging, ACP.

DEFRA’s document points out that a major aim of the consultation is to select the best option for enabling UK business to move smoothly from the 2001 targets of 50% recovery, 25% recycling and 15% material-specific recycling, towards assumed EC target levels in 2006. As pointed out by the ACP, the widespread expectation is that these targets would require removal of incineration with energy recovery; a 60% recycling rate, including 70% for glass, 60% for paper/fibreboard, 50% for metals (steel, aluminium), 20% for plastics; and increased – and differentiated – material-specific recycling targets. The 2002 targets must also meet the government’s Waste Strategy to recycle (see related story) and compost at least 25% of all household waste by 2005, rising to 33% by 2015.

Because the full 2001 recovery data was not available at the time of the release of the consultation, DEFRA is presenting two scenarios, based on provisional reported data and estimated data. This situation highlights problems with the current data gathering system for recycling information, which is under review by the ACP. The consultation also raises the issue of introducing differentiated material specific targets, which it recognises is a sensitive issue in the industry, creating serious competition concerns. This will be the subject of a separation consultation to be published once the EC has released formal proposals for the review of the Packaging Waste directive.

Copies of the consultation document will be available via the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website and comments are due by 7 November.

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