Material sectors criticise Government`s unachievable packaging recycling targets
Key figures across the recycled plastics, aluminium and wood industries have expressed their concerns over the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs proposed packaging recycling targets for 2020.
Some sectors believe the Government’s targets are over-ambitious and need to be revised. They say more infrastructure and work on increasing the recovery rates of materials needs to be put in place before such targets can be reached.
Trade association for the plastic packaging industry the Packaging and Films Association (PAFA) chief executive designate Barry Turner believes that its calls for joined-up thinking with local authorities and waste firms has “fallen on deaf ears” after a 56.9% plastic packaging recycling target for 2020 was announced. Currently, less than 22.8% of plastic packaging is recycled.
Turner said: “The new UK targets are higher than any other European country in spite of the fact that others have achieved far more consistent collecting and sorting methodologies at local level. The UK has not sufficiently encouraged local authorities to operate to a consistent collection strategy supported by well-invested sorting facilities. These are a crucial pre-requisite if we are to succeed in providing the uncontaminated materials required to feed good quality recycling markets. The result is that we are way behind in recycling infrastructure yet targets are being set which are higher than across Europe.”
The Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) executive director Rick Hindley said: “We have concluded that the proposed 70% target is not achievable; we have and will continue to consult with Defra to outline our reasons for this.”
Alupro believes that a 65% target would be a fairer target, which is still challenging “but probably achievable if the industry received the full support of Government and other stakeholders”. A ban on the use of aluminium in laminates and composites would also need to be imposed because this material cannot be recovered when in these states. It also calls on all local authorities to collect aluminium drinks cans, aerosols and foil trays at the kerbside.
In contrast wood packaging recycling targets of 74% by 2020 have been generally welcomed by the Wood Recyclers Association as the industry is currently exceeding these targets.
“However, a major factor affecting the wood PRN market in the future will be the rapidly increasing demand from the biomass sector, resulting in more competition for the board mills and other traditional markets,” WRA secretary Peter Butt commented. “It is not possible at the moment to predict the impact with any accuracy, but we expect competition to be fierce for all grades of processed wood chip, including the higher grades which contain the majority of wood from packaging; this will increasingly affect the recycling/recovery balance in respect of wood PRNs over the next 10 years.”