The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has published a series of reports outlining the quantity of packaging material placed on the market (POM) and the likelihood of reaching recycling targets.
According to the reports, the quantity of glass, paper and card, and steel packaging POM in 2017 all increased by four per cent compared to previously published Material Flow reports. Aluminium packaging POM is estimated to have risen by 11 per cent, while wood POM has declined by one per cent.
Although the report reveals that aluminium, paper and card, steel and glass are all roughly in line to meet future recycling targets, the outlook for plastics is not so positive.
WRAP published a report on the future of plastic packaging recycling, entitled ‘PlasticFlow 2025’, in October 2018, estimating that the UK is likely to meet plastic packaging recycling targets in 2018, 2019 and 2020, as well as the CEP target in 2025.
However, according to the PlasticFlow report, the UK is set to miss the 70 per cent UK Plastics Pact target for 2025.
The UK Plastics Pact, launched in April 2018, has seen a range of businesses commit to reducing their plastic packaging, and has published a list of items, including disposable plastic cutlery and plastic straws, which should be eliminated by 2020.
However, despite the current fixation on reducing plastic, alternative packaging materials are not necessarily a better option for the environment. Last month, think tank Green Alliance published a report warning that drinks containers made from alternative materials such as aluminium and glass also have significant environmental drawbacks. Aluminium cans, for example, have a worse impact than plastic bottles in terms of production, and drinks cartons, although having a lower carbon footprint, are difficult to recycle.
WRAP states that its new reports will prove important in helping the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to develop the policies proposed in its Resources and Waste Strategy, which aims to increase recycling rates and improve the sustainability of packaging.
You can view the Material Flow 2025 reports for wood, paper and card, glass and metal on WRAP’s website.