Mixed Recycling Rate Record for UK Packaging

Newly released figures have revealed that the recycling of plastics packaging in the UK has been lagging behind other EU countries. The data shows the British recycling rate for plastics packaging during 2013 did not reach the EU average.

We’re pleased to note that the recycling rates for paper and cardboard were more positive, however, exceeding the EU average. In terms of recycling rates for all materials, Britain was ranked in 15th place in a list of 28 states.

The figures, which were published on the Eurostat website of European Commission data, revealed that plastics packaging recycling achieved a rate of 31.6 per cent during 2013. The average across the 28 member states of the EU was 37.3 per cent.

The UK performed similarly to countries such as Estonia, which has a rate of 28.1 per cent; Hungary with a rate of 30.8 per cent; and Luxembourg, which has a 32.2 per cent rate. States that performed better included Sweden, with a recycling rate for plastics packaging of 45.6 per cent, and the Netherlands with a 46.2 per cent rate.

The UK’s rate did, however, show a six per cent rise in the rate seen in 2012, marking the biggest single yearly increase in more than a decade.

The figures were released as DEFRA, the UK’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, consults on the possibility of amending this year’s plastics packaging target as a result of market pressure. The current target is set at 52 per cent, rising to 57 per cent during 2017.

Proposals under consideration, however, would see this rate reduced to 48 per cent in 2016 and rise by just one per cent every year until 2020.

The recent figures also showed that 2013 saw the UK failing to reach the EU average of 72.8 per cent for glass packaging recycling by recording a rate of just 68.3 per cent. The performance was even further off the average mark when it came to metals packaging recycling. The UK recorded recycling rates of 57.4 per cent during 2013, compared to the EU average of 73.9 per cent.

Better performance was recognised in the area of cardboard and paper packaging recycling. The average EU rate for this was 84.7 per cent, but Britain achieved a rate of 89.4 per cent.

In all material streams, Britain achieved an overall recycling rate for packaging of 64.6 per cent. The average EU rate for the same year was 65.3 per cent.

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