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EU calls for stricter packaging standards

The packaging sector needs to be forced into recycling its waste through more strict standards, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has said in a report claiming weaker general objectives cannot control a potentially unruly sector.

The agency says a study has shown that where national governments use the packaging and packaging waste sector to set "hard targets", the legislation has had most impact.

"Despite considerable success with recycling, policy in this area has some way to go. We need to step up the focus on waste generation. Targets would make policymakers and the public more aware that the ultimate goal is to avoid waste in the first place," said EEA executive director Professor Jacqueline McGlade.

Comparative figures noted in the report are old (2001), but note contrasts in performance. While Ireland missed EU recovery goals of 50%, with just 27%; it hit 25% recycling goals, with another 27% performance. In the UK, 42% of packaging waste was recycled that year, with 48% being recovered.

The British system receives a mixed review from the EEA, noting it "is a particularly complex system". That said, it is cheap, designed "to enable businesses to comply with their obligations at the lowest possible cost, and this aim appears to have been fulfilled".

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