Businesses double recycling efforts
Businesses have doubled their rate of recycling packaging waste in the last decade, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has revealed.
Research by Defra found that UK firms recycled more than two-thirds of their packaging waste last year, around 6.6 million tonnes – almost twice the recycling rate of 30% in 1998. According to the Environment Agency, this equates to saving the amount of CO2 generated by around one-and-a-half million UK homes each year.
The results mean that the UK easily exceeded EU targets for businesses to recycle 55% of their packaging in 2008.
“This is a really significant achievement and shows that we are making good progress on packaging recycling,” said Environment Minister, Jane Kennedy.
“Businesses which handle packaging have a vital role to play in reducing the amount of waste we’re sending to landfill and I’m pleased to see they’re doing their bit,” she added.
The Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which works with businesses to encourage recycling, said it was clear the recycling habit had caught on with UK firms.
“The fact that two-thirds of packaging is now recycled in the UK shows real progress,” said a WRAP spokesman. “In these difficult economic times, businesses are keen to reduce costs and, with increasing costs of waste disposal, better waste management can actually save money, in addition to environmental benefits.”
UK businesses have a legal obligation to meet certain recycling responsibilities. The Producer Responsibility Regulations (371k PDF), introduced in 2007, require companies which handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year, to recover and recycle a proportion of their packaging waste.
The Courtauld Commitment, also introduced in 2007, aims to reduce packaging and food waste. Over 30 major retailers and brands, forming 92% of the UK’s supermarket sector, have signed up to the voluntary agreement, which is working towards reductions in packaging by 2010.