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A new set of packaging recycling targets set by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), for the period of 2013 to 2017, have been approved by the House of Commons and will replace existing legislation in January next year.

Under the new legislation, plastic recycling will increase from 32 per cent in 2012 to 57 per cent by 2017. Aluminium packaging recycling will increase from 40 per cent to 55 per cent over the same period, while steel recycling is set to rise to 76 per cent by 2017, up from 71 per cent this year. Wood, Paper/Board and Glass packaging recycling targets will remain unchanged, at 22%, 69.5% and 81% respectively.

The new, higher recycling targets for plastic, aluminium and steel packaging have been designed to meet and exceed the minimum 60 per cent recovery target set by the European Union Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive of 2009, but those working within the plastics industry have criticised DEFRA for “not listening” to their concerns over the new targets.

Voicing concerns raised to him by the British Plastics Federation and the Plastics and Film Association, Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby, asked the committee if there was any point in setting targets when “the industry has no confidence in its ability to deliver.”

In response, Richard Benyon, a minister for DEFRA said, “We understand the concerns of the organisation in the supply chain” but went on to say, “They must reflect on the fact that the vast majority of consultees and of people who are working on the ground – the people collecting, sorting and trading right through the supply chain – want the new targets, which is why we are having them and why we consulted.”

When combined, the entire package of targets is set to bring a net benefit of £181 million to the UK economy over the next five years, with 95 per cent of that benefit coming from revenue generated by recycled packaging materials.

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