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Packaging targets criticised by industry

Proposed plastics packaging recycling targets have been labelled “politically driven” and “deeply concerning” by industry chiefs as the government consultation on the new objectives closes.

Defra’s consultation on recovery and recycling targets for packaging waste for 2013 – 2017, which closes today, outlined plans to increase the plastics recycling target by 5 percentage points per year, from 32% in 2012 to 57% by 2017.

Former government adviser Phil Conran, now a director with consultants 360 Environmental, told MRW the targets proposed were “extremely ambitious”.

Conran, who previously sat on the government’s Advisory Committee on Packaging, added: “It seems to be politically driven rather than based on an analytical assessment of the best environmental solution.

“Most of the growth will have to come from household waste, which is poor quality and for which there will not be recycling markets in the UK, and one can only see plastic PRN prices rocketing.

“If this was going to be invested in UK processing, that would be understandable, but this will simply end up creating some very rich exporters.’

The British Plastics Federation slammed the targets as “unachievable and deeply concerning”.   

The trade body said: “The direct cost to plastics packaging producers and handlers would be an extra £70m over five years which is in effect a direct and unfair tax on the packaging sector to support an unachievable target.

“The government uses excessive growth figures for plastics packaging, which have been widely ridiculed within the industry.”

Bruce Margetts, chair of the BPF’s packaging group, said: “It appears to be a straightforward tax on producers rather than a realistic road-map for infrastructure and quality improvement. Production and filling of packaging could be lost from the UK.”

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman said tougher targets would ease the demand on raw natural materials and improve resource efficiency by making more recyclable materials available for businesses.

“These new, more ambitious targets will deliver real environmental and economic benefits,” she said.

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