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Most recycled packaging is exported

Plastics recyclate

The percentage of recycled business packaging waste that is exported has risen to 53.7%, according to latest Environment Agency (EA) figures, while battery recycling missed its 2016 target.

In 2015, exports overtook domestic reprocessing for the first time, accounting for 50.4% of all packaging recycling.

The latest figures show this proportion rose to 53.7% in 2016, as overall recycling levels increased strongly on the year before.

Strong recycling last year means the targets for 2017 should be achieved easily due to a lot of material being carried over into this year’s figures.

360 Environmental director Phil Conran wrote on his organisation’s website: “If we assume that the plastic obligation will only increase by the target rise this year, then it would suggest that we need no plastic recycling growth to meet the 2017 target.

“The steel carry-over is also strong and, on the back of a good Q4 result, it would suggest that the 2017 target should be met easily.

“The aluminium carry-over was nearly three times the 2015 carry-over and, with a strong quarterly performance, would suggest that 2017 targets should be met.”

Glass recycling was less strong in 2016 but the target for 2017 is unchanged, so Conran said there was no market concern about this being met.

Meanwhile, latest EA figures show battery recycling fell short of its target for 2016, which Ecosurety principal consultant Mark Sayers said was due to the higher cost of battery recycling.

He said: “The shortfall has come from smaller producers which have effectively added to the target but which are not compelled to actively recycle their batteries.

“Until now, the difference has been met by larger producers but, because the cost of recycling batteries has risen, larger producers through their schemes are recycling only enough to meet their obligation. This means they are no longer subsidising the small producers’ contribution.”

Sayers said the figures show the batteries market was tightening and he urged the EA to look at this “unintended consequence” of the regulations.

“The system is definitely working,” he added. “It now needs a bit of tweaking so that the spirit of the legislation comes through.”

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