The UK government has proposed a three-week consultation on the accreditation of packaging waste reprocessors and exporters, in order to allay fears that recycling targets will not be met.
The consultation from Defra proposes to remove the 30 September deadline for accreditation under the packaging regulations, which has been seen as a barrier to increasing UK packaging recovery rates.
"To ensure that the government can put in place any change for the rest of this year, the consultation exercise needs to be carried out now," said a Defra statement.
"Because of the very urgent nature of this matter, therefore, the government proposes to consult for three weeks only. Any longer and any changes may not be able to be implemented rapidly enough to take effect this year."
The government consultation is for three weeks only, with a view to laying a Statutory Instrument to amend the accreditation arrangements for 2005.
Under UK packaging waste regulations, packaging producers must pay for their share of the recycling of packaging waste to meet UK targets. The producers pay for their responsibility through the purchase of notes that reprocessors issue for the tonnage of recycling they carry out.
However, only reprocessors and exporters that have been accredited by the Environment Agencies can issue Packaging Waste Recovery Notes (PRNs) and Packaging Waste Export Recovery Notes (PERNs) as evidence of compliance with their packaging waste recycling obligations. Under current rules, new or expanding reprocessors bringing new sites online after the September deadline would have to wait until the following year to accredit the new sites.
There are fears that the 30 September cut-off could affect the ability of the UK's packaging industry to meet stringent recovery and recycling targets set by both Westminster and Brussels. New, higher recovery and recycling targets to be met by 2008 have been set in the new Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive 2004/12/EC, and the packaging Regulations were amended in 2003 (2003 SI No. 3294) to set the business targets necessary to enable the UK to meet the new Directive targets in 2008.
For example, 50 per cent of all metals must be recycled by 2008. "We need more resources to facilitate metal recycling," Corus' steel recycling manager John May told FoodProductionDaily.com last week. "There is a perception that there is no problem finding a home for a recycled steel can, which is true. But the problem is being able to collect them in the first place."
Recycling packaging waste is also becoming a critical issue because new methods of disposal will have to be found in the future. The country has a history of using landfills to dispose of both hazardous and non-hazardous wastes cheaply and easily, but this practice of co-disposal was banned last year.
In addition, the number of landfills licensed to deal with hazardous waste in England and Wales has dropped significantly, which the UK's environment agency warns will have a significant impact on the ability of business to dispose of their wastes.
The consultation paper is available from the Defra website , and the deadline for responses is 5pm on 28 February 2005.