Defra Wants Views on Packaging Targets

The government is calling for the views of packaging specialists and users to help formulate plans for the future of plastics packaging recycling targets. The consultation comes after new research appeared to show that recycling rates for this type of packaging were greater than previously thought.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) released a consultation paper in March, and the packaging specialist sector and other people interested in the subject have until May 22 to respond. The paper calls for views on proposed changes to the regulations governing the type of waste associated with packaging and batteries in a bid to make the rules more cost-effective and appealing for businesses.

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Opinions are also being sought on the current targets set for waste plastic packing recycling as part of the consultation. The current aim is to achieve a 52 per cent recycling rate by next year (2016) and a rate of 57 per cent in 2017.

This request for public information follows the outcome of research that was commissioned by Defra amid concerns that the figures used to assess Britain’s progress in terms of EU packaging targets were incorrect. The results of the Plastic Flow 2014 study were published last December and claimed that more than 2,260,000 tonnes of original or new plastic packaging entered the market during 2013. According to the report, this figure is about 330,000 tonnes less than the amount predicted by Defra for the period. The original forecast figure for the amount of plastic packaging had been set at 2,515,809. For this reason, the report claims that despite the rate of recycling plastic packaging in the UK being said to be around 27.4 per cent in 2013, this figure was probably likely to have been nearer to 32 per cent over the course of the year.

In the consultation documents, Defra claims that the government is committed to better understanding the way in which these changes to the view of the current flow figure could potentially have on the ability of businesses to meet their legal obligations. To this end, Defra wants businesses and specialists to help it collect information on the benefits and costs of keeping the current targets, lowering these targets or delaying the achievement of the targets set for 2016 and 2017. The government says that no decisions about changes to the plastics target have yet been made, and the next steps will be considered based on the information gained from the consultation.

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