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UK plastics industry says government has wrong packaging data

By: PRW

January 16, 2014

British Plastics Federation research has shown that the government has overstated the annual volume of plastic packaging placed on the market.

A report, commissioned by the BPF's recycling group in response to a request from the Advisory Committee on Packaging to corroborate recycling rates, analyzed National Packaging Waste Database returns and concluded that the quantity of plastics packaging placed on the market, currently calculated to be 2.5 million tons, is over-stated by 300-400 metric tons per year.

The findings, produced by Phil Conran of 360 Environmental, indicated the government's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' current assumption of a 2.5 percent growth rate for plastic packaging placed on the market is over optimistic.

NPWD data has shown an overall flat position in the period from 2006 to 2012 when the figures displayed a significant decline.

The consequence of this is that for the last few years the United Kingdom's plastics packaging chain has actually been better in its recycling achievement than has been reported to Europe. The mistaken assumptions on which business targets are calculated leads to unnecessarily high costs and with the European Union considering higher recycling targets later in the decade, which could put the UK at a further disadvantage to other member states, claimed the BPF.

Roger Baynham, chairman of the federation's recycling group, said: "It is disappointing that the UK's plastic recycling performance has been understated. It is crucial that the actual baseline from which targets are calculated are accurate so that compliance costs are not exaggerated."

Bruce Margetts, chairman of the BPF's packaging group, agreed.

"We need legislation based on facts, and this report provides independent and authoritative validation of factors we are fully aware of in our own businesses," he said. "There has been a slowdown in consumer expenditure on packed goods and that through the corporate social responsibility programs we are responding to there has been significant progress made in the light-weighting of packaging."