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‘Stretching’ packaging recovery targets proposed by ACP to 2020

The Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) has set out recommended packaging recovery targets to 2020, advising Government that higher targets should be set for 2013 onwards.

The Government has set packaging recovery targets for 2011 and 2012, which were seen by the committee as not “sufficiently stretching” industry. In its Annual Report 2010/11 the ACP asked each material sector to produce forecasts based on the potential for recovery of their materials without being restricted by the current processing infrastructure.

Industry has recommended the following targets to 2020:

Material20132014201520162017201820192020
Paper72.774.676.578.480.382.284.186.1
Plastic28.73133.335.637.940.242.545
Aluminium (exc laminates and composites)4546485255596265
Steel6668697173757778
Glass60.761.26262.763.564.26565.6
Wood38.243.950.656.36267.870.670.6
Total accounting for over-achievement in wood (75.4) and paper (81.9 2013-2017)6060.561.663.164.46667.669.1

According to the report, “the overall view of the ACP is that the setting of Government targets acts as an incentive to deliver”. The recent Waste Review has come under criticism from industry for its lack of targets, however, it did commit to increasing packaging target from 2013. The ACP believes that higher targets will increase the value of some packaging recovery notes and reduce others but that the overall size of the PRN pool would increase. This would up the share of the cost borne by packaging producers, while reducing the cost to local authorities.

The Committee is particularly focused on increasing recycling of plastics and aluminium. It feels that plastics packaging is “highly visible” to consumers and the material is chosen by many manufacturers due to its weight, utility and cost. Aluminium is a focus due to the 20% increase in recycling that will be needed over the next nine years. It has been found that the material tends to be overlooked by local authorities because of it does not contribute as much as other materials to weight-based targets. Better delivery of glass is another key aim.

Going forward, the ACP has recognised that it may be more difficult to find ways to increase recycling because the “low hanging fruit has been plucked”. It therefore believes a joint-working approach across local authorities, using their kerbside collections and bring sites will be a significant factor in helping industry to achieve the 2020 recycling targets. However, the report states that local authorities would be “unwilling” to extend services without a significant additional source of funding because they feel they are bearing an unfair share of the cost of collecting packaging.

Other recommendations include:

·         Carry out a study into the reasons for losses encountered between the retail depot and store to identify if processes or systems could be changed to put less stress on the product and its packaging.

·         Manufacturers should identify the function of the packaging rather than the exact nature.

·         Capture more packaging within the obligation by obligating warehouses a wholesaler obligation.

·         WRAP to help local authorities with retendering contracts

·         ACP to evaluate whether a consortia of authorities with or without contractors could sell materials more effectively to reprocessors

·         Develop a clear communication strategy to consumers.

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