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UK plastic recycling target to be reviewed

Rory Stewart, resources minister, announced during the Plastics 2020 conference held on the 25 November that the government are going to consult on revising the plastic packaging targets. 

The UK recycling target in plastic has seen a steady 5% increase since 2013, with 2017 looking to achieve 57%. These were originally set in 2011 but following the ‘Plastic Flow 2014’ report, concerns were raised that data used by Defra when initially setting the five year targets were incorrect.

On-going problem

Recent years have seen this increasing target exacerbated by other external forces such as China’s ‘Green Fence’ policy and low oil prices (see our previous story here), causing PRN prices to fluctuate dramatically.

This year the plastic sector has already showed signs that it will struggle to achieve the required target with plastic recyclers Closed Loop going into administration. Recently, packaging recovery notes (PRNs) have seen prices hitting over the £70+ mark with no sign of easing. With concerns over achieving the 2015 target, things do not bode well for subsequent years.

Revision announced

As a result of this, Rory Stewart, resources minister, announced during the Plastics 2020 conference held on the 25 November that the government are going to consult on revising the plastic packaging targets. Furthering insight from Defra has indicated that they will present a range of proposals for revising the target. 

Today, Defra has opened the consultation on both plastic and glass future targets. Responses are due by the 23 December with the results expected in April 2016. ecosurety will be submitting a response on behalf of its members and if you want to share your view please do get in touch. You can find out more about the DEFRA consultation by clicking here.

Historic lessons

The revision of material recycling targets is not unheard of. Defra made a similar move in 2014 following corruption within the glass market which led to huge instability in prices in 2012 and 2013 (see our previous story here). This resulted in decreased pressure on glass and ultimately led to a stable price for producers.

Based on this precedent, ecosurety believe that conducting a similar review on the plastic target will be a positive step, whilst still ensuring the UK meet EU packaging targets without the need to place an additional cost burden on producers.

If you would like to speak to our specialists about your packaging compliance, please call us on 0845 094 2228.


James Piper

Chief executive officer

James Piper is CEO of Ecosurety. As well as providing a consistently high service to our customer base of over 1,000 companies, James is driven to bring about positive change in the compliance market through increased transparency and accountability. Since taking this position in 2016, James has worked to demonstrate that recycling compliance need not be perceived as a tax, but an opportunity for brands to align their producer responsibility obligations with their sustainability agenda.


Written by James Piper Published 26/11/2015 Topics Compliance

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