Latest packaging waste data reveals some grades have met 2020 obligation

The monthly packaging waste data for October has shown that some grades have now met their packaging waste recycling and recovery targets for 2020.

The latest figures, released by the Environment Agency on the NPWD earlier this month, report on the amount of packaging waste that has been recycled or exported between 10 October to 10 November 2020.

The data shows continued progress towards comfortable achievement of packaging waste recycling and recovery targets for 2020, with paper, aluminium and steel already achieving the production levels needed for this year.

October was a particularly strong month for paper production, with 380,267 tonnes reported, an additional 323,000 tonnes since the Q3 data was released last month. With 2019 carry over taken into account, paper has now achieved its target for 2020.

Another grade reporting very strong production in October is aluminium, with 15,394 tonnes reported – an additional 7,800 tonnes added since the Q3 data. Aluminium has also achieved its recycling and recovery target for 2020 with carry over, as has steel, which reported a very strong 43,599 tonnes production in October.

Glass total needs 196,042 tonnes through November and December and looks set to achieve its overall recycling target for 2020. This year’s positive production provides confidence ahead of the increase in glass targets for 2021 and 2022, with glass remelt seeing a large rise in targets, moving from 67% in 2020 to 72% next year.

Plastic and wood are two grades close to achieving recycling targets for 2020. Plastic production in October was relatively positive, and with 100,848 tonnes reported. Including carry over from 2019, plastic is now only 52,300 tonnes short of its 2020 target, with 2 months remaining.

Wood has under 9,000 tonnes left to recovery to achieve its target, including 2019 carry over.

"External forces outside of the industry remain a factor in how easily the UK can achieve the higher targets announced in the years ahead. But if production continues at positive levels in November and December, some grades will have the benefit of starting the new year in a positive position, with significant carry over."

Martin Trigg-Knight, Head of Packaging

Recovery has the furthest to go in order to achieve its 2020 recycling target, sitting at 82% with 2 months of the year left. The surplus in paper and other material grades, however, means the overall recycling and recovery target for the UK should be comfortably met.

The release of packaging recycling targets for 2021 and 2022 confirmed the removal of a target for recovery of packaging waste from next year. This means that waste to energy sites will no longer be able to issue PRNs following the current compliance year. The announcement falls in line with the proposals in the consultation and the EU Directive on packaging and packaging waste.

Martin Trigg-Knight, Head of Packaging at Clarity Environmental, said: “It has been clear for some months that many grades are ahead of where they need to be, although the industry has remained understandably cautious given the continuing developments and restrictions around the Covid-19 pandemic. With only two months left of the year, this latest data is very positive, with some grades having already reached 2020 targets when carry over is taken into account.

“External forces outside of the industry remain a factor in how easily the UK can achieve the higher targets announced in the years ahead. But if production continues at positive levels in November and December, some grades will have the benefit of starting the new year in a positive position, with significant carry over.”

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