Warning on waste recovery targets

Time is running out to set up infrastructure for packaging law

The UK’s waste recycling and recovery infrastructure will be unable to cope with the demands that will be placed on it by new regulations this year, experts claimed this week.

The warning came just days after the launch of Valpak, a national compliance scheme that takes on companies’ obligations under the new packaging waste regulations.

From next year, all companies that handle over 50 tonnes of packaging each year and have an annual turnover of more than £5m must prove that a specified percentage of their packaging waste is recovered or recycled; an initial 38% of waste overall must be recovered in 1998. They must also register with the Environment Agency by August this year. Collective compliance schemes, such as Valpak, will deal with companies’ obligations for them.

Valpak’s prospectus says: `The required levels of recovery are uneconomic in current market conditions so compliance will need significant investment and development of the industry.’

Adrian Hawkes, a partner with consultant the SeQuoia partnership, has said the timescale for setting up the infrastructure is short. Time has been lost because the legislation’s introduction was delayed while the target dates stayed the same. `An extensive and rapid programme is needed if the UK is to stand a chance of meeting its targets,’ he said.

Waste recovery contracts from Valpak are expected to underpin investment by the waste management industry in facilities to deal with recovered packaging.

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