U.K's. Packaging Policy Will Change Recycling Focus

U.K's. Packaging Policy Will Change Recycling Focus

The U.K.'s new packaging policy will focus on material optimization, increased recycling rates and better communication of recycling system funding.

Although the policy is still under review, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) head of producer responsibility, Judicaelle Hammond, has given an update on the policy at recent events in the U.K.

Two of the main aims of the policy will be making packaging more efficient and recycling more of what is being used. Such efforts could include making packaging lighter or analyzing the market for reusable packaging and concentrated products.

The government might also alter packaging targets based on where it can make the most gains in emission efforts. And although the government would like to increase recycling rates, it also wants to ensure that good quality recyclables are collected. Materials will get different amounts of attention and effort based on how they are used and what's done with them then they're tossed out.

The government also wants to have better communication about producer responsibility efforts and explain how recycling systems work and are funded by packaging recovery notes (PRNs). "The PRN system is working, but we need to make the revenues more visible to local authorities," Hammond said.

Large companies that make, fill or sell packaging are subject to regulations under the "Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997" law, which sets waste recovery and recycling targets. Companies subject to the law must purchase PRNs, which are documents that show that a waste reprocessor, such as a steel mill, glass smelter or waste-to-energy plant, has reprocessed recovered packaging. PRNs are tradable. One priority with the PRN system will be making it more visible to consumers and local authorities, explaining how PRNs fund recycling and recovery programs.

Reduction Research

DEFRA is also funding research on reducing the amount of material needed in high-speed, mechanical operations that fill and seal packages.

Food and drink research center Campden BRI and the University of Bath are examining package-filling processes for foods like rice and chips in order to develop machines that use less plastic and can use recycled materials. Researchers hope more efficient ways of sealing packaging will reduce material use by 13 percent, or more than 39,000 tonnes a year.