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UK on track to meet packaging recycling targets

The UK looks largely on track to meet its packaging recycling and recovery targets by the end of 2009, according to industry experts.

But achieving the steel target may be difficult.

According to figures published last week by the Environment Agency via the National Packaging Waste Database for the second quarter of 2009, more than 1.59 million tonnes of packaging was recycled. This was up from 1.58m tonnes in quarter one.

Compliance scheme Budget Pack managing director Stephen Clark told MRW: The PRN system works to support exporters and domestic reprocessors with funds to increase their collection capacity and infrastructure. This is to promote recycling in preference to landfill. The recent release of the UKs second quarter recovery and recycling figures indicates that the PRN system is operating effectively and we have already seen price movement in materials as a result of this change in supply versus demand.

Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation executive director Rick Hindley said he was encouraged by the second quarter figures for aluminium and that an increase in the figures reflected Alupros expectations. Hindley added: We are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead and about meeting our targets.

Advisory Committee on Packaging chairman John Turner said that the second quarter figures for 2009 were encouraging. He added: If the UK maintains its performance in the first half of the year for the second half of the year, the overall European Union packaging recycling and recovery target should be met.

The figures for quarter two for steel are much better than those for quarter one, but we recognise that the market for steel packaging waste continues to be volatile and unpredictable. Achieving the steel target may be difficult. A range of options for addressing this have been considered by the ACP. Ministers have concluded that no additional measures should be taken at present, but the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will continue to monitor the market situation closely, with the ACP.

It is essential that obligated producers and compliance schemes continue to take all possible steps to fulfil their legal obligation to recycle and recover packaging steel.

Clark said that domestic recycling and export in some materials has increased slightly compared to the same period in the previous year, for example, plastic is up by 19,000 tonnes on 2008, whereas paper has stayed constant throughout. He said: The reprocessing and export of more tricky materials such as steel has decreased in quarter two compared to the previous period in 2008, but not by as much as many people expected.

He added that during the recession a number of businesses have hit the wall and this has resulted in lost obligations. As a result of this and a greater focus on cost control among producers in general, the UKs PRN demand has dropped by 181,000 tonnes.

Glass figures for reprocessing and export for quarter two is 397,310 tonnes. British Glass recycling manager Rebecca Cocking said that the figures were relatively high and they indicate that the UK will reach its 1.6 million tonnes target by the end of the year. She added that the main challenge that the glass industry faces is the quality issue.

Packaging waste compliance scheme Compliance Link director Edward Cooke said that he agreed with Cocking that the UK will meet its 1.6m tonnes glass target but said that the UK will still be 77,000 tonnes short. The main glass target for the UK to meet is 16,776,204 tonnes and the UK carried over 66,836 PRNs from last year. This means that the UK needs to meet 419,405 tonnes every quarter - its target figure. Cooke said: Glass and steel will be very tight this year and the rest will be easy peasy.

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