U.K. government favors packaging recycling plan that would boost plastics recycling to 57% in 2017, from 32% in 2012; Europen calls targets 'ambitious,' says more emphasis is needed on recovery, should consider economic factors

LOS ANGELES , December 19, 2011 () – In its plan to increase packaging recycling, the U.K. government is favoring a strategy in which plastics recycling would increase to a rate of 57% in 2017 from 32% in 2012, reported Food Production Daily on Dec. 19.

The European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (Europen) considers the plan “ambitious” and believes that economic factors need to be considered, as well as environmental ones, said Europen’s Julian Carroll.

Europen would like to see more of the plan directed toward recovering plastics materials, rather than recycling them, Carroll added, noting that it might be more practical “to recover energy from the packaging,” Food Production Daily reported.

The plan, which is contained in the Consultation on Recovery and Recycling Targets for Packaging Waste for 2013, was drafted by the U.K. Dept. of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The government’s favored option in the paper also proposes increasing the recycling rates for steel and aluminum, although plastics rates would increase the most.

While plastics recycling would have to grow by 5% per year during 2012-2017, aluminum would be expected to increase by 3%/year, to 55% from 40%, and steel would have to go up 1%/year, to 76% from 71%, reported Food Production Daily.

Plastics recycling tonnage would expand to 1.221 tonnes in 2017 from 606,085 tonnes in 2012.

Overall, U.K. recycling -- which includes targeted increases in recycling of paper, glass, aluminum, steel, wood materials and plastics -- would increase to 7.132 million tonnes in 2017 from 6.360 million tonnes in 2012.

Plastics recycling would have to expand the most of all materials recycling, according to the government’s preferred plan, Food Production Daily reported.

The 5% annual increase for plastics recycling is “a stretch” for any material, said U.K. Packaging Federation CEO Dick Searl, who said that the targets set should be “doable.”

“The real question is do local authorities have the ability to collect and process such a great amount,” said Carroll.

The consultation of the proposed packaging recycling targets will continue until Feb. 10, and the final decision will be announced in the U.K.’s budget for 2012, reported Food Production Daily.

The primary source of this article is Food Production Daily, Montpellier, France, on Dec. 19, 2011.

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