New packaging recycling targets for the period 2013 to 2017 have been approved by the House of Commons and will become law in January.
MPs yesterday backed the targets following a debate in Second Delegated Legislation Committee that scrutinised the Draft Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2012.
This means that the target for plastic recycling will increase from 32 per cent in 2012 to 57 by 2017.
For glass, there will be a split target with 63 per cent must come from remelt in 2013 to 64 per cent by 2017, with an overall 81 per cent target.
Aluminium increases to 55 per cent in 2017 from 40 per cent in 2012, while steel rises from 71 per cent this year to a target of 76 per cent by 2017.
Wood and paper/card remain at 22 per cent and 69.5 per cent respectively.
The packaging regulations are designed to meet and exceed the minimum 60 per cent recovery target set by the European Union Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive 2009.
In 2010, the UK achieved a 67.3 per cent recovery and recycling rate, and by 2017 this must reach 72.7 per cent according to the new regulations.
In the debate in front of the committee, Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “Overall, we estimate entire package of targets will bring a net benefit of £181 million to the UK economy over the period 2013 to 2017.
“Most of the anticipated benefits, over 95 per cent, will come from revenue generated from recycled materials…
“…We have not taken the decision to go beyond the EU minimum lightly, and we have only done so because our cost-benefit analysis demonstrates that higher targets will deliver clear and significant net environmental and economic benefits to the UK.
“My department carried out a public consultation last December which sought views on a range of options including sticking to the EU minimum through to the higher targets before the House today.
“The majority of respondents supported it going further than the EU minimum. When deciding the level to set the targets, we took into account the current recycling rate, the infrastructure available for collecting, sorting and reprocessing the waste packaging plus any developments in this infrastructure and available analysis of the costs and benefits of recycling.”
He also addressed concerns raised by both Conservative MP for Rugby and Labour Shadow Waste Minister Gavin Shuker about the perceived lack of consultation with plastics industry trade bodies in particular over their fears that targets for plastics were unachievable.
The Minister said: “Some within the plastics industry remain concerned about the achievability of the plastics targets. Concerns were also raised about how the department had engaged with the industry during the development of these targets. First, let me assure the House that my department has gone to considerable lengths to engage all those with an interest in the proposed regulations including the plastics industry…
“…In reaching its decision on the plastics target that was announced in the Budget in March, the Government has balanced the views of all interested parties.
“The majority of respondents who expressed a preference, supported a higher target for plastic. This included organisations that would be required to collect, sort and reprocess the additional tonnages of plastic. Those plastics producers who were opposed to the preferred option represented about 10 to 15 per cent of the total tonnage of plastic packaging covered the regulations.”
Additionally, the Minister also said that he wishes to see more domestic recycling of plastics, although recognises the importance of sending quality material to China.
He added: “Security of feedstock has been cited as discouraging some reprocessors from entering the market. One of the objectives of the higher recycling targets is to provide financial support and confidence in supply to enable investment in infrastructure, which will help develop markets for a wider range of plastics.
“We would like to see a growth in domestic reprocessing of plastics to reduce our reliance on overseas markets. The ultimate virtuous circle is that we have a domestic market to which we can send these materials.
“That said, we believe China will continue to need to import recovered plastics to meet its huge demand for plastics…
“… China currently imports 45 per cent of its recovered plastics – the UK was 9 per cent of recovered plastics to China and Hong Kong.
“The way to maintain the UK’s share of the plastics market is to focus on the quality. Japan is a huge supplier to China as there is a huge demand for quality material.”
The Minister also confirmed that Defra will continue to monitor progress in meeting the targets and said there would be a possibility of a mid-term review if necessary.