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Packaging report criticised for focusing on costs

2000 handbook packaging toy waste

A top academic has said a recent report into the estimated costs to the packaging industry in implementing EU circular economy (CE) policies is “extremely misleading” to politicians.

The PackFlow 2025 report was launched by Valpak chief executive Stephen Gough at the ’Resourcing the Future’ conference in London on 28 June.

The report assessed whether future packaging targets under the circular economy package were achievable and estimated the likely cost to industry.

Gough said that if the CE package were to be implemented in full, the net cost to businesses in the UK could be around £360m.

He told delegates: “We have simply taken what the producers are paying in other countries and applied that to the UK’s waste flow and so that is what the cost would be in the UK. If we were to look at the German implementation – that £360m figure would be much higher.”

But Paul Ekins, professor of resources and environmental policy and director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, said: “As long as we talk the language of ‘cost’, the politicians are not going to be interested. That’s why I was critical of the Valpak report.

“The report not only put up a huge picture of cost, but actually it was extremely misleading.

”I’m not saying it’s wrong. But it is bound to be misinterpreted. That will be taken to be the cost to society as a whole.”

He said that if policy makers were presented with the cost of landfill tax, rather than the strong incentive for businesses to minimise material sent to landfill, they would have been put off by the “very big number”.

“This isn’t rocket science,” he added. “The design of the policy is difficult, but the overall structure – who gets the incentives … to increase resource efficiency so we can get the economic and environmental benefits that are waiting ahead of us – that’s the task ahead of us.”

 

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