Packaging waste regulations
In 1997, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions introduced legislation to implement the EU Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste. The legislation aimed to achieve a more sustainable approach to packaging waste, to reduce the amount of material going to landfill, and to make all parts of the packaging chain share the responsibility of dealing with waste.
The legislation defines packaging as "all products made of any materials of any nature to be used for the containment, protection, handling, delivery and presentation of goods". The specific targets are to ensure that, by 2001, 50-65 per cent of packaging waste (by weight) will be recovered, and that 25-45 per cent of all packaging will be recycled, with a minimum of 15 per cent for any given type of packaging material.
There is a hierarchy of preferred outcomes:
· to reduce the amount of packaging that is used;
· to re-use more packaging;
· to recycle more packaging materials.
Of the material that ends up in landfill sites, no distinction is made between long-lived materials and those which are readily biodegraded.