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Defra sets out plan for 49% plastics recycling

Defra has launched a consultation on changes to plastics packaging recycling targets for 2016-17.

The department’s preferred option is to reduce the existing plastic target to 49% in 2016 then increase it by 2% each year to 2020, to deliver a 48% recycling rate by 2020.

This would amend the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations, which require obligated producers to recycle 47% of the plastic packaging handled, rising to 52% in 2016 and 57% in 2017.

It comes in response to WRAP’s Plastic Flow report, released last December, which predicted that UK recycling rates for plastic packaging would be 38% in 2017 and 43% in 2020.

The consultation, which also proposes setting new targets for plastic and glass packaging for 2018-20, runs until 23 December.

Speaking at the Plastics 2020 event held at Westminster on 25 November, resources minister Rory Stewart (pictured) said he aimed to reassure concerns he had “picked up on” from industry stakeholders.

Stewart also invited the plastics industry to join Defra’s litter taskforce, which he said would focus on “people and social behaviour” and not “demonising manufacturers”.

“I would like to re-emphasise that, from the point of view of our department,litter is about people and not about products,” he said.

The minister said he wanted the plastics trade body to contribute to his drive for consistency of recycling collections, which he wants to reduce to around six different types.

He said: “We want you to help us identify where best practice lies. We believe that we can find best practice in councils that can save taxpayers money and can improve our environment.

“So we’d like to see what suggestions you have on bottles, tubs, trays and films, and we’d also like to play our part in making sure this isn’t just some geeky technical solution but is something that is genuinely communicable to the public so they actually know what they’re doing in order to help your industry.”

The minister said his department is “looking closely at PRNs at the moment” but did not go into further detail, and described it as “another thing to take forward”.

He was speaking immediately after the Government’s Autumn Statement and comprehensive spending review. He said chancellor George Osborne’s announcements seemed to be “good news so far”.

Barry Turner

The Packaging and Films Association (PAFA) chief executive Barry Turner (left) told MRW he thought Stewart’s comments were promising but was waiting to see if he followed through with them.

As reported by MRW, Turner will head a new group next year resulting from the merger of the PAFA and the British Plastics Federation.

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