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Defra reviews packaging targets

Defra is consulting on new business packaging recycling targets for paper, wood, aluminium and steel for 2018-20 and has published three options.

Each option indicates varying degrees of ambition. Option 1 proposes no increase in targets from the current 2017 targets through to 2020.

Option 2 includes the greatest rise, based on keeping the UK on track to achieve the circular economy package recycling targets for 2025 of 65% overall. The figure for wood, for example, would be 38% in 2018, 43% in 2019 and 43% in 2020. Aluminium’s targets for the three years would be 57%, 59% and 61%.

Option 3 suggests lower increases for all materials, apart from aluminium, which Defra says are “optimal” based on its cost-benefit analysis.

The analysis predicts that Option 3 would have the greatest net benefit to businesses of £4m a year, as well as the best net social benefit of £28m annually.

Defra says: “Under Option 2 the high target for wood recycling leads to a large carbon saving, since wood is diverted away from the energy-from-waste sector. This, however, also reduces the revenues that collectors may earn by selling wood to biomass plants, reducing the benefits to businesses.

“Together this causes net social benefits and affects benefits to diverge under Option 2. Under Option 3, which has a high target for aluminium, the net social benefit and benefits to businesses move together.

“The diversion of aluminium away from landfill leads to a sizeable carbon benefit while, for business, the high material price for aluminium leads to high material revenues.”

Despite these comments, Defra says it does not have a preferred option.

“The Government’s overarching aim is to have appropriate targets which ensure that the UK complies with EU Packaging Directive targets while maximising the benefits for consumers, businesses and the environment,” it says.

It is seeking views from respondents on which targets are most desirable and why in a consultation running until 6 January.

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