Following calls for a review of the packaging targets for 2017, Lord De Mauley has said that the Government will take action if necessary to ensure targets are met.
In a debate on the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 in the House of Lords last week, peers voted in favour of introducing new tougher targets for the period 2013 to 2017.
However, following a call from Lord Jenkin Of Roding for a review of the packaging targets due to plastic industry concerns that the targets are impossible to achieve, Lord De Mauley said that he could assure the Lords that Defra will monitor progress “and take appropriate action if needed”.
He added that the Advisory Committee on Packaging has a standing agenda item to review packaging recycling achievement data and to advise Defra on trends and impacts on achievability. He said he would keep a close eye on this.
In his opening speech in the debate, Lord De Mauley set out why the Government believes higher targets are needed for certain materials.
He said: “The Government wants the UK to move towards a zero-waste economy. Rather than an economy where no waste at all is produced, we envisage one where resources are fully valued. We want to see material resources reused, recycled or recovered wherever possible, and only disposed of as a last resort…
“…The existing regulations set recycling targets for packaging producers until the end of 2012. We now need to put measures in place to ensure that the UK continues to meet the EU packaging recycling targets in future years, and to ensure packaging waste continues to be recycled.
“If we do not, this will result in the removal of important financial support for the recycling system in this country, and we can expect current recycling rates to drop. Furthermore, we can expect costly infraction proceedings for failing to implement the EU directive.
“However, there is a more reason for these targets. As valuable resources for our industries get scarcer and more expensive, we need processes in place to recycle properly and recover them to maintain as much of the value as we can in the economy.
“The proposed targets for the period 2013-17 will maintain the current levels of recycling of paper, wood and glass. They will also set a trajectory for increased recycling of aluminium, which we want to see increase by three percentage points per year; plastic by five percentage points per year and steel by one percentage point per year.
“The largest increase under the targets proposed will be in plastic packaging recycling. The target under consideration today will increase the UK’s plastic recycling rate from 24 per cent to 42 per cent in 2017. This is an ambitious target compared with where we are now. At present the UK’s recycling rate puts us towards the bottom of the EU league table. I acknowledge that there are concerns about this, but we need to do better.”
He also put forward the split target for glass that would mean separate targets for aggregate and re-melt use.
The Minister also revealed that Government predictions are that sales growth in the UK is expected to accelerate to 3.8 per cent each year in recycling and recovery, and 3 per cent in waste management in the next five years.