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Packaging waste recovery set to increase

Changes to packaging rules mean that more packaging waste will be recovered and recycled, with more businesses involved in the process.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Welsh Assembly have announced a number of measures that spread costs and keep individual recovery and recycling targets lower.

Among the new rules is that leased packaging, such as pallets and crates will now fall under the regulations, subject to Parliamentary approval.

Some administrative and cost burdens will also be eased for smaller businesses following proposals to simplify small business' data requirements.

Local environment quality minister Ben Bradshaw said: "This will spread costs more equitably among all the businesses involved and keep their individual recovery and recycling targets lower than they might otherwise be."

Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) regulations have helped raise recycling rates from 27% in 1997 to just below 50% at the end of 2004.

With the UK having to meet new, higher targets by 2008, the new measures are aimed at making recycling easier.

In order to meet that level, packaging laws require businesses that handle over 50 tonnes of packaging waste a year and with turnover in excess of £2 million to give recycling targets.

Bradshaw added: "The new measures announced today mean that, as well as ensuring that more packaging waste is being recycled and recovered, more businesses will be involved in increasing the UK's packaging waste recycling rate."

A number of other technical changes have also been adopted, including the removal of the 'reasonable step' wording from the regulations.

Proposals to include packaging from franchisee businesses were also welcomed in consultation. But these are still under consideration, and the outcome will be known shortly.

A summary of responses to the consultation paper can be found at www.defra.gov.uk.

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