Industry says UK recycling targets 'unachievable'

Hamish Champ

Published: September 25, 2012 6:00 am ET

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Topics Packaging, Sustainability, Public Policy, Recycling

LONDON (Sept. 25, 12:45 p.m. ET) — The United Kingdom plastics industry has slammed the government over its refusal to move its position on its recycling targets, adding that ministers had no plan on how such targets should be delivered.

In a withering attack the industry said the government had “repeatedly ignored its warnings that its targets – set to rise from 32 percent currently to 57 percent by 2017 – are unachievable unless there is significant investment in the logistics of collection and recycling”.

Speaking on behalf of the Plastics 2020 Challenge, Barry Turner, head of the Packaging and Films Association, said the onus was being put on packaging producers to ensure enough material was collected, when in fact it is local authorities which controlled collections.

“The fact is that, in the absence of resource-based recycling targets, there is no incentive for councils to invest in collection services – even less so when their budgets are already stretched to the limit,” added Turner.

The plastics sector has also pointed to downward revisions by the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs of its estimates on UK recycling capacity “which, together with the difficulties in getting councils to step up their recycling efforts and the absence of material-specific targets on local authorities, make it impossible to achieve the required additional 520,000 metric tons of plastic for recycling needed under the government’s five-year target.”

Philip Law, public & industrial affairs director of the British Plastics Federation, said the government’s “ill thought out and fragmented approach” would see companies obligated to foot the bill for recycling that cannot be delivered.

“This is a no-win for everybody, including the government, who will have to explain their failure in the future,” Law added.

Jan-Erik Johansson of Plastics Europe also condemned the government’s approach. “As a Europe-wide organization, we are surprised at the continually shifting positions from the UK government with the result that our industry can only conclude they are not serious about working with everyone in the recycling chain to achieve effective, consistent and achievable results in this crucial area of sustainability,” he said.


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Industry says UK recycling targets 'unachievable'

Hamish Champ

Published: September 25, 2012 6:00 am ET

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