Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


UK plans legal minimum for packaging recycling

February 2012

Packaging targets are to be set for the next six years in the UK and deregulation introduced as part of a government consultation on packaging waste policy.

The summary of last year’s consultation, welcomed by business, outlines material-specific recycling requirements, such as 69.5% for paper and 22% for wood in 2011 and 2012, followed by sharp increases during the next five years.

If the goals receive parliamentary approval, they will impose a legal obligation on packaging producers to recycle a minimum proportion of certain materials.  

Other packaging covered includes glass – which has the most demanding requirement at 81% – aluminium, plastic and steel. The proposed total recycling target is 68.1% for both years.

Beyond 2012, recycling targets for some products increase significantly. Aluminium targets, for example, will need to rise by three percentage points every year to reach 55% in 2017, up from 40% in 2012.

The plastics figure increases from 32 to 57%, and the steel packaging waste recycling target goes up to 76%.

The monitoring of targets may be undermined, however, given that two deregulatory changes will abolish compulsory independent audits and create a more lenient mechanism for calculating legal obligation.

Coca-Cola, a company particularly affected by the changes, hailed the proposals in a statement, saying: “We wrote to ministers ahead of this announcement requesting this move and are delighted to see the government act to push the industry to step-change recycling of materials such as cans and plastic.

“We hope the government’s new targets will inspire more positive initiatives from across both public and private sectors to help transform recycling in Great Britain.”

Consultation on the targets will continue until early this month, and a final decision is due in the 2012 budget.

Coca-Cola | UK & NI Ireland | Waste management

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