Policy

Reducing and managing waste

Supporting detail:

Packaging waste - producer responsibility regimes

The UK has a statutory producer responsibility regime for packaging. This places a legal obligation on businesses which make or use packaging (like raw materials manufacturers, converters, packer/fillers and sellers) to ensure that a proportion of the packaging they place on the market is recovered and recycled.

UK packaging waste recovery and recycling targets for 2013 to 2017

On 21 March 2012, as part of the Budget, new packaging targets for 2013 to 2017 were announced. These reflected the preferred option based on responses received from our consultation.

The targets apply to businesses under the Producer Responsibility Regulations.

They will ensure that the UK continues to meet EU Directive targets over the next 5 years.

Material 2012 (%) 2013 (%) 2014 (%) 2015 (%) 2016 (%) 2017 (%)
Paper/card 69.5 69.5 69.5 69.5 69.5 69.5
Glass 81 81 81 81 81 81
Aluminium 40 43 46 49 52 55
Steel 71 72 73 74 75 76
Plastic 32 37 42 47 52 57
Wood 22 22 22 22 22 22
Total recovery 74 75 76 77 78 79
Of which recycling 68.1 69 69.9 70.8 71.8 72.7

As these targets only apply to obligated businesses, the overall level of recycling and recovery will be lower.

From 2013, there will also be split targets for glass. The targets for individual businesses with an obligation in glass will be:

  2013 (%) 2014 (%) 2015 (%) 2016 (%) 2017 (%)
Proportion of glass that must come from remelt 63 63 63 64 64

Progress so far

In 2011 the UK disposed of an estimated 10.8 million tonnes of packaging waste, of which around 67% was recovered. In 1998 only 27% of packaging waste was recovered.

2011 recovery and recycling achievement data

  Total packaging waste arising (tonnes) Total recovered/recyled (tonnes) EU Target (%) Recovery/recycling rate (%)
Paper 3,817,860 3,232,461 60 84.8
Paper composting   6,727    
Glass 2,739,989 1,751,852 60 63.9
Aluminium 160,877 73,683   45.8
Steel 648,740 373,714   57.6
Metal   447,397 50 55.3
Plastic 2,515,809 609,910 22.5 24.2
Wood composting   442    
Wood 1,023,939 600,276 15 58.7
Other 22,443      
Total recycling   6,649,065 55 60.8
Energy from Waste   685,612    
Total Recovery 10,929,657 6,641,896 60.0 67.1

Legislation

The producer responsibility regime implements the Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (94/62/EC), amended by Directive 2004/12/EC.

The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 (as amended) cover recycling and recovery, while the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 (as amended) cover single market and optimisation aspects.

More about the regulations and how to comply.

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