Increased UK packaging recycling targets from January 2013

WEEE Design

December 2012

An agreement in Parliament to amend packaging waste regulations has set higher recycling targets for plastics, aluminium and steel packaging in the UK in 2013-2017. The regulations will replace the current packaging regulation, which expires at the end of 2012.

The Draft Producer Responsibility Obligations Regulations 2012 will:

  • increase the target for plastic recycling from 32% in 2012 to 57% in 2017;
  • increase the target for aluminium recycling from 40% in 2012 to 55% in 2017;
  • increase the target for steel recycling from 71% in 2012 to 76% in 2017;

Under the new regulations, the recycling targets for paper, wood and glass packaging will remain the same as current levels. The target for glass is a split target: 63% must come from remelt in 2013, increasing to 64% in 2017, with the rest being used in aggregates to make up the overall target of 81%. The target for wood will remain at 22% and for paper/card 69.5%.

Defra minister Mr Richard Benyon estimates that the new packaging targets "will bring a net benefit of £181 million to the UK economy over the period 2013 to 2017”. However, the reprocessing industries have concerns that increased targets will lead to both lower quality and increased export.

Mr Benyon addressed claims that Defra had not listened to the plastics industry’s concerns with the new targets by responding that Defra had undertaken a formal consultation on the proposals, which had lead to the decision that the increased targets were the government’s best option.

The regulations are designed to meet and exceed the minimum 60% recovery target set by the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive 2009. In December 2011, a public consultation found the majority of respondents supported it exceeding the EU minimum.