Packaging recovery targets set for 2008-10

The government has announced packaging recycling and recovery targets for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010. But it unexpectedly failed to set targets for 2011 and 2012.

Targets requiring businesses in the packaging chain to increase the proportion of packaging waste recycled and recovered in the three years to 2010 were announced by the Environment Department (DEFRA) on 11 January.

The 2008 targets are designed to ensure the UK meets those set by the packaging waste Directive. This requires member states to recycle 55% and recover 60% of packaging waste, and to recycle 60% of both glass and board, 55% of metals, 22.5% of plastics and 15% of wood packaging by 2008.

The Directive does not require member states to meet targets beyond those set for 2008. Even so, the government says higher national targets extending beyond next year will play a key role in enabling it to meet the landfill diversion targets set by the landfill Directive and its targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The recycling targets for individual materials are largely unchanged from those proposed in last autumn’s consultation paper (ENDS Report 393, pp 41-42 ), but those for aluminium and glass are slightly lower to reflect updated data on arisings and recycling performance (see table).

To balance these reductions, the overall recovery targets are higher than those proposed in the consultation paper.

Surprisingly, DEFRA’s announcement did not mention targets for 2011 and 2012 even though proposed targets for these years were included in the consultation. But it is unlikely to have abandoned the idea; the consultation paper said setting targets for 2011 and 2012 reflected the government’s intention to increase levels of packaging recovery and recycling set out in the 2007 waste strategy for England.

If DEFRA waits until nearer the time before setting 2011 and 2012 targets, it lessens the risk of having to revise these when better data on packaging arisings and recovery levels emerge.

DEFRA said that over the next year it will work with businesses, local authorities, WRAP and others to develop additional measures to increase recycling of aluminium, which produces particularly high carbon dioxide savings. "Significant improvements in the collection and sorting arrangements are needed," said DEFRA, "particularly for beverage cans in the household and on-street waste streams."

Regulations introducing the targets will be laid before Parliament "shortly".

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