16 May 2019 by Joshua Doherty

WRA urges Defra rethink over wood packaging targets

The Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) has called for Defra to keep packaging recycling targets for wood at a ‘high’ level, following proposals for targets up to 2030.

The call formed a part of the WRA’s response to Defra’s consultations on the UK’s packaging producer responsibility system, which closed on Monday (May 13).

Wood packaging

Targets have been proposed for the recycling of wood packaging up to 2030

Currently the packaging recycling target for wood stands at 43% for 2019, and is due to rise to 48% in 2020. In Defra’s consultation on proposed reforms to the producer responsibility system, the Department has proposed setting new targets to 2030 – which would be set at a lower level than the current goals.

This comes after the EU’s Circular Economy Package also proposed lower targets for the recycling of wood packaging, citing a strong demand for material from biomass (see letsrecycle.com story).

Defra’s proposals would follow the EU template, and set a target for wood of 30% by 2025, remaining the same through to 2030. These target levels have been determined as it is thought that the volume of wood packaging placed on the market will increase at a higher rate than the tonnage of wood being recycled.

‘Momentum’

However, in its response to the Defra consultation, the WRA has called upon the Department to review its proposed targets for the recycling of wood packaging, and claims that lowering the targets “will take the momentum out of the recent positive steps it has seen in packaging-wood-waste moving up the waste hierarchy of reuse, recycling and recovery.”

Commenting on the proposals, Julia Turner, executive director of the WRA, said: “In a previous consultation the WRA  had recommended that wood packaging targets should be increased and this happened. However, these latest proposals seem to be reversing that decision to reflect lowered EU targets.

“We believe this proposal has been driven by the high wood PRN prices in 2018, which have already steadied at a more acceptable level due to the economic forces of supply and demand, with more waste wood packaging being recycled in 2019 and much lower wood PRN prices.

“This highlights that wood packaging targets could continue to be increased in further years without risking a spike in prices.”

Option 1

Overall, the WRA’s response to the consultation supported changes being proposed at a strategic level to encourage increased reuse and recycling of packaging waste, increased packaging recyclability, a higher level of recycled content in new packaging and less littering of packaging waste.

Proposals for packaging recycling targets, including wood, up to 2030

WRA has expressed its support for ‘Option 1’ under the proposed governance models for a reformed packaging waste system, which is based on the current compliance scheme model and sees schemes levy ‘modulated fees’ on members based on the type and quantity of packaging they handle.

Ms Turner added: “We believe the current system for the recycling of wooden packaging waste is working, but we also support the requirement to make the governance of the PRN system more transparent.”

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