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Petition for Non-recyclable Packaging Legislation Rejected by UK Government

17th March 2017

A cross-party panel of MPs has rejected a petition calling for a ban on all non-recyclable packaging. The petition, which garnered over 83,000 signatures, indicates that 1.5 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste is not recycled each year, instead ending up in landfill or waterways. It also suggests that the UK recycles 64% of all packaging waste, yet only 32% of plastic packaging wastage. To tackle this, the petition calls for a ban on non-recyclable packaging in the UK, with a five year grace period to allow manufacturers, suppliers and vendors of packaging to adapt to the change.

Following a debate on this topic, any ban on unrecyclable packaging has been rejected and Therese Coffey, the Resources Minister, has reiterated the government’s preference for a voluntary approach. The government’s response suggests that it is the responsibility of businesses and customers to decide which packaging materials are supplied and purchased, rather than the government to enforce the use of certain materials. The response also claims that most packaging is already recyclable, but the challenge is the availability of recycling and its practical concerns. One clear example of this is coffee cups which, as discussed in a previous blog post, are recyclable but only in small quantities.

Many recycling bins

The Government’s response also draws attention to two pieces of legislation which seek to increase the recycling of packaging waste, and reduce its overall volume. The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations, which is the basis of some of the work carried out in the UK by ecoVeritas, places an obligation upon UK businesses to ensure that a proportion of the packaging they handle can be reused or recycled. Furthermore, the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations requires businesses to ensure that packaging does not exceed what is required for a safe and hygienic product whilst ensuring that adequate protection is available for products.

There is clearly already legislation in place to improve the level of recycling of packaging waste. This legislation is, perhaps, unlikely to achieve the petition’s demand for 100% recycled packaging by 2022, but is central to making steps to achieve this. Whether or not these steps are adequate is a topic for further debate.

If you need help complying with the producer responsibility regulation, contact us on 01865 721375 or request a proposal here. Find out more about what services ecoVeritas offer in on our packaging page.

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