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In the global fight against plastic waste, Conservative MP Dr Matthew Offord has called for an ‘urgent’ debate on plastic packaging recycling.

Speaking at the House of Commons last Thursday, the Conservative Party MP claimed that the UK is far from meeting the packaging recycling targets set by DEFRA, and that the British Government needs to consider the ‘local reality’ of plastic recycling, and do more to improve the UK’s sorting and collection infrastructure.

The aim of the DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) plastic recycling targets, which will come into force next year, is to increase the amount of plastic waste recycled in the UK from 37% in 2013, up to 48% in 2017, although those working within the sector have raised their doubts.

During his speech at the House of Commons, Dr Offord said, “The government intend to introduce ambitious targets for the recycling of plastic packaging, which will impose financial obligations on UK manufacturers”, and that “a realistic road map” needs to be established so that smaller UK businesses are not “financially responsible for delivering targets that are outside their control.”

The UK packaging waste recovery and recycling targets set by DEFRA for 2013-2017, place a legal obligation on businesses that make or use packaging, to ensure that a percentage of that packaging is recovered and recycled. However, Dr Offord claims this offers “little incentive for local councils to improve when they have weight-based recycling targets”, and so the government need to do more.

The British public, it seems, are happy to recycle their plastic carrier bags, bottles and waste, and if the local governments make it easier by providing more collections and more recycling bins, our plastic waste will end up in recycling plants rather than the English Channel.

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