The British Retail Consortium (BRC) says the Government is right to recognise that recycling rates are the key to reducing waste. Talk of enforcement action is a distraction because ‘excessive packaging’ is not an issue.
Reacting to the Government report ‘Making the Most of Packaging’ published today (Tuesday), the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the report was right to reject claims that ‘excessive packaging’ is widespread and to recognise that retailers are already doing a great deal to ensure optimisation of packaging – meaning the minimum is used to achieve the important protection and preservation role packaging fulfils.
The BRC says retailers are playing a significant part in reducing waste. They recognise the benefits of reducing landfill, greenhouse gas emissions and costs.
The report backs the BRC’s long-standing belief that the key route to further reducing waste is increasing the amount and range of material local authorities collect for recycling. Local authorities should improve their kerbside collection of recyclable materials and build new recycling facilities capable of handling a wider variety of materials.
Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: “Talk of enforcement action is a distraction. This report rightly recognises that the idea that retailers pointlessly swathe goods in unnecessary packaging is a myth. We agree completely that using the minimum packaging to protect and preserve products adequately is the right approach. Retailers have made great strides in reducing packaging and working towards sustainable packaging, using less material and more recycled content.
“The On-Pack Recycling Label, launched by the BRC earlier this year, is a strong example of retailers’ commitment. It’s giving customers the information they need to ensure more of the material that can be recycled is recycled.
“Local authorities have more to do. They must increase the amount and range of material they collect for recycling by improving household collections and developing new facilities. And we need recycling regimes that are consistent throughout the UK.”
The BRC agrees there is a need to maximise recycling rates and it is vital to work with customers to achieve this. Retailers have significantly reduced the volume of packaging used under an agreement with the Government and are working on ambitious targets to optimise packaging and develop a measure of the carbon impact of packaging.
The BRC has launched the On-Pack Recycling Label to help customers to recycle more materials that can be recycled. Already more than 30 major retailers and brands are using it on their packaging.
But, to achieve higher levels of recycling, local authorities need to do much more to improve the recycling infrastructure by building facilities that accept a greater range of materials, particularly mixed plastics such as those used in ready meals and margarine tubs. There also needs to be more consistency across the various authorities in the materials they collect for recycling.