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Packaging advisers defend UK recycling

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The UK’s performance in recycling packaging is a cause for celebration, according to the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP), which is challenging what it says is a “bad press” about plastics and recycling.

The ACP, which comprises industry and local authority representatives appointed by Defra, has issue a statement saying: “Black food trays and a drop in England’s recycling rate have given some newspapers the opportunity to suggest that we are failing as a recycling nation, but some good news published last week suggests we are anything but.”

It quotes the Environment Agency’s final packaging recycling data for 2016 showing that, overall, the packaging recycling rate rose by 6.8% on 2015 and now stands at almost 65%.

Individual material performances are listed:

  • aluminium recycling rate up from 33% in 2015 to more than 50%
  • plastic recycling now 45%, 14 percentage points up from 2015

  • glass remelt recycling increased by nearly 10 percentage points
  • nearly 82% of paper packaging is now recycled following a six-point increase over 2015
  • 65% of steel packaging was recycled, up from 51%

The statement adds: “The ACP recognises the challenges that future targets and the circular economy will apply and, clearly, there is still much to be done to maximise recycling to levels that optimise resource efficiency.

“But it also believes that the UK’s packaging recycling performance record is cause for celebration, and that those within industry as well as national and local government that have worked to achieve these results should be applauded.”

It maintains the data demonstrates the UK’s ability to compete in secondary markets and the value of the packaging recovery note system.

  • ACP, chaired by Phil Conran, assists in the development and implementation of the Packaging Waste Regulations and advises Defra on targets, technical matters and packaging recycling issues

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