Defra announces packaging recycling targets for next two years

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced packaging recycling targets for 2021 and 2022, with a few key changes compared with previous years.

Though there was a slight delay in publishing the targets, producers and compliance schemes will now be able to focus on the effect of the changes to the market for next year. 

Ecosurety has shared the full table of recycling targets for various packaging materials, before listing some key points about the new targets. These include: 

Removal of the recovery target 

A key change has been the removal of the recovery target. What this means is that waste to energy sites cannot be accredited and won’t be able to issue packaging recovery notes (PRNs) after this compliance year. Recovery PRNs accounted for 8% of the overall recovery target, equating to around 610,000 tonnes, in 2020.

The reason behind this change is that the EU Circular Economy Package confirms there will no longer be an EU member state target for material recovery and Defra selected to take this approach. 

Material-specific targets 

Targets for paper, wood and aluminium across the next two years are confirmed as those proposed in last year’s consultation. Though, targets have been reduced for plastic, steel and glass.

Another key change is the rise in the glass remelt percentage split of the overall glass recycling target, from 67% to 72%. This increase equates to roughly 100,000 tonnes of extra glass remelt PRNs to be produced next year, which could be a challenge.

Recalibration for 2021 

Ecosurety’s head of policy, Robbie Staniforth, said it was a “relief” the targets had been published so that markets can start the “process of recalibration for next year.” 

He continued: “Looking more specifically at the substance of the targets, it is pleasing to see that the government has taken much of the commentary provided by industry experts into account when making their final decision. 

“The progressive, but ultimately unrealistic, targets proposed for some materials in last year’s consultation have been modified down to a more realistic level. Aggressively increasing targets where there is no additional UK capacity could simply have led to yet more export of low-quality material.”

Staniforth said that while it is disappointing that wood recyclers had become “collateral damage” due to the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, the increase to the overall target should help to soften the blow for the industry. 

Although recovery PRNs have offered an extra incentive to keep material away from landfill, Staniforth said it now feels right time to remove the incentive in line with the resource hierarchy. Yet, he noted that while “incentives to burn packaging waste work counter to reduction, reuse and recycling goals, they may yet return in the new extended producer responsibility system as a consequence of producers being expected to cover the full net cost of their packaging’s lifetime.”

He said Ecosurety looks forward to engaging with the government on this issue over the coming months to make sure any unintended consequences are ironed out.

The Delta Group has always worked diligently to ensure we operate safely and responsibly. Our investments in infrastructure have been aligned to our sustainability objectives of procuring materials from sustainable sources, with low energy consumption and optimum water usage. 

Now, we are launching our new and enhanced, client-centric sustainability model, Delta Zero. Please contact us to find out more, especially our Nozomi print that allows us to print ‘direct-to-board’, reducing plastics and glues.