Understanding Hierarchy for Packaging Users

A July 2014 workshop organised by the European Group of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) has once again highlighted the need for businesses to understand and adhere to the waste hierarchy.


The hierarchy is aimed at conserving resources and minimising environmental damage through ensuring effective waste management, but the European Union legislation can be difficult for some business owners to understand, let alone implement.

Understanding Hierarchy for Packaging Users

Understanding the difficulties of adhering to the hierarchy was one of the main focuses of the recent workshop, in a bid to promote better ways to initially prevent waste, reuse what cannot be prevented, recycle as much of what is left as possible, recover leftover materials and energy, and dispose of waste as a last resort.

The amount of waste generated by businesses which use large amounts of packaging means that it is especially important that those people at the helm understand the legislation. This should now be shaping many aspects of the business, from packaging design to the self-creation of packaging materials using cardboard shredders.

Packaging consultants, such as those available at Holmes Mann, can be invaluable in helping to ensure that as little waste as possible is created and any that is can be reused or recycled in the most effective way possible to benefit both business budgets and the environment.

Businesses in the UK which use packaging have a legal responsibility to make sure that some of the packaging used is recycled and recovered. The 2012 Budget included new packaging targets relevant until 2017 which were aimed at allowing the UK to continue to meet EU Directive targets.

Businesses must adhere to these targets as a result of Producer Responsibility Regulations. The aim is that over the next five years 69.5 per cent of paper and card packaging is recovered and recycled, along with up to 55 per cent of aluminium, 81 per cent of glass, up to 76 per cent of steel and 57 per cent of plastic, and 22 per cent of wood. This would lead to a total recovery proportion of 79 per cent by 2017, with 72.7 per cent of these materials being recycled.

The UK is already making good progress when it comes to levels of recycling and recovery. In 2011, for example, around 10.8 million tonnes of packaging waste was disposed of by the UK. Of this, around 67 per cent was recovered. This compares to 1998, when just 27 per cent of packaging waste was recovered.

For top tools and top tips on making the most out of your waste, head over to our website or give us a call.

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