Packaging was a key issue the government said it would address when they launched their review of the waste policy in 2010. There has been hardly any indication as to what direction the ministers will take.
A group of experts that advise Defra about packaging policy, the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) is preparing a report giving recommendations that will be released at the end of May and is expected to have a great deal of influence with the review.
Bob Lisney, committee chair says that the core of the report is tackling packaging waste and how far the UK has come in doing so. He says the UK is meeting the European packaging targets and for reducing packaging per person they are number one in the world.
But of course perception is one thing achievement another. The committee did say a significant problem with the perception of packaging. In the Defra’s waste review consultation 50% mentioned that retailer and packaging survey has found a public frustration with packaging.
In order to change this mentality the committee said it is important no to get complacent with regard to achievement and powering ahead as far as increasing the packaging and recycling rates.
The government has kept the packaging recycling targets for the most part the same for 2011 and 2012 and had attracted a considerable amount of criticism recently which has meant that the price currently paid for PRN’s is at rock bottom.
Overall the message is that there is not a problem with packaging waste but a large problem with perception issues. One key area or problem with perception is with plastics. Although they only account for a small amount of overall weight for the year with only 2.4 million tonnes the “waste stream” is over 65% of the packaged goods so it is very highly visible to the public.
It is thought there should be a step-change in collections by collecting all the bottles possible and a minimum of 50% of the local authorities collecting mixed plastics. The practices all over Europe need to be looked at and then choose something from all of them since no one is doing it all right.