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Has #Budget2016 Watered Down Recycling Targets?

Posted on: March 25, 2016

Plastic coffee cup

Last week George Osborne took to the despatch box in the House of Commons to deliver his eighth budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Like every business, we were keenly listening out to hear what the Chancellor would have to say about issues affecting our industry – and we weren’t too be disappointed.

On 5th October 2015 the government introduced the ‘Plastic Bag Tax’ – a 5 pence charge for all new carrier bags distributed by retailers. Following last week’s budget the Environment Minister, Rory Stewart, agreed with a suggestion from Labour MP Rob Marris that the next target should be to increase recycling levels of coffee cups. 

The World’s First Fully Recyclable Cups

Every year in the UK more than 2.5 billion cups are thrown away. Very few are recycled, with the majority creating 25,000 tonnes of landfill waste. To help counter this problem, inventor Martin Myerscough has created what he believes to be the world’s first fully recyclable cup. Launched in May, the cup has been designed so as to allow the thin layer of plastic on the cup (something which is legally required under EU Health and Safety regulations) to be easily removed during the recycling process.

“The way forward is to recycle. I always thought it was such a waste that disposable cups couldn’t easily be recycled. In these times of limited resources and diminishing landfill space, a single-use cup that can’t be recycled is an indulgence we just cannot afford. Watering down any kind of packaging recycling targets is a retrograde and very worrying step.” – Martin Myerscough.

Watered Down Targets?

Mr Myerscough’s closing remarks come as the Government was accused of watering down recycling targets during last week’s budget. Before Mr Osborne’s announcement, the UK’s recycling targets included:

  • An aim to recycle 57% of plastic packaging by 2017
  • An aim to recycle 77% of glass by 2017.

However, following last week’s announcement this has been changed to: 

  • An aim to recycle 49% of plastic packaging during 2016, followed by an increase of 2% each year until 2020 to a maximum of 57%.
  • An unchanged aim to recycle 77% of glass by 2017, with a 1% increase each year until 2020.

Campaigners, including Friends of the Earth, see this as the UK not doing its bit to improve recycling. Their Acting Campaigns Director, Mike Childs, said:

“Not content with boosting tax exemptions for climate-wrecking oil and gas companies, the Chancellor is further damaging the proposals of future generations by cutting back on packaging recycling targets for plastic and glass.”