DEFRA holds firm on 2009 packaging targets

The Environment Department (DEFRA) has confirmed that business packaging targets for 2009 will not change, despite being set before the recession hit.

Higher targets requiring firms in the packaging chain to increase the proportion of packaging waste recycled and recovered in the three years to 2010 were announced by DEFRA in January 2008 (ENDS Report 397, pp 42-43 ).

But recently concern has been expressed that the recession would leave firms struggling to meet the tougher targets. Obligations are based on the amount of packaging handled in the previous year and there is concern that with the amount of recycling having dropped, the price of obtaining evidence will rise for some materials.

In February, steelmaker Corus announced it would not recycle packaging waste for at least the first half of 2009. In addition, 31 fewer reprocessors and exporters of packaging waste have applied for accreditation in 2009 than in 2008.

However, DEFRA ministers have decided that on the basis of current evidence the 2009 targets should not change.

Nevertheless, authorities are watching the markets closely. In February, the Environment Agency wrote to reprocessors and exporters requesting that data submissions on recycling and recovery activities be made monthly, rather than quarterly. It says "early access to the data could allow DEFRA to respond more quickly to any changes in the market."

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