A recent report from the Advisory Committee on Packaging found that the amount of glass on the UK market had been vastly overestimated by Defra by over 300,000 tonnes. As a result, the ACP is advising the government to scale down their targets for glass recycling to around 77%, instead of the current 81%. We take a look at the industry responses.

Way back in October 2013, the ACP began calling on Defra to amend the targets they had initially set businesses for glass recycling. Defra have subsequently consulted on this and are thought to be reducing their glass packaging targets for businesses by April 2014.

Defra had initially estimated there to be 2.75 million tonnes of glass in circulation. As a result of this figure, the UK’s glass recycling was thought to be well below the 60% target set by the EU. As a result, Defra had called for a 81% target for businesses.

The ACP however found that the amount of glass in circulation was actually closer to 2.4 million tonnes. As such, the ACP calculated that the amount of glass recycling within the UK (combining both local collections and business recycling) was actually 68%, which was well over the EU target. Therefore, they suggested that Defra lower their recommended obligated target to 77%.

“Well Received”

The news was “well received” according to recycling industry sources, by all those within the glass industry and also Defra.

Chairman of the ACP, Bob Lisney said “I am pleased with the reception in the industry….(the recommendations) have been well received by Defra.”

Head of Container Affairs at British Glass, Rebecca Cocking, was also positive about the ACP’s findings. She told letsrecycle.com “we had discussions with Defra asking for a review, because obviously as we have seen this year, PRN prices are still quite high and lowering the targets will bring it down to something a lot more realistic.”

Three Options

Following on from the report, Defra held a consultation that closed last Friday 17th January. The consultation put forward 3 basic options, which are listed below:

  1. Keep the recycling business target at 81%
  2. Lower the recycling target to 75%
  3. Lower the recycling target to 77%

The British glass industry and other interested parties have been putting their views across this week, and it makes for some very interesting reading.

The Environmental Services Association, wants to see the current target of 81% maintained. They argue that the target is helping to improve the infrastructure of the glass recycling industry, and warn against making any changes to the target without plenty of prior notice.

Waste consultancy firms, 360 Environmental and Valpak, believe that the target should be lowered to 75%, with a possible year on year percentage increase. Valpak, who played a part in the initial APC report, told letsrecycle.com “We are very pleased that the government has acted quickly in launching this consultation.

We support lowering the targets…because we think that is what is necessary to cause a sufficient step change in demand for our members.”

It would appear that the target is due to decrease in 2014, as industry experts clamor for the figures to be brought down. It remains to be seen, just what percentage Defra settle on and how it is greeted by the recycling industry.