'Clean' designs urged to meet targets

EAST of England retailers and manufacturers have been urged to increase adopt “cleaner” designs as the Government announces tougher business targets for packaging recovery and recycling rates.

EAST of England retailers and manufacturers have been urged to increase adopt “cleaner” designs as the Government announces tougher business targets for packaging recovery and recycling rates.

Simon Best, eastern region manager for Envirowise, a Government-funded body which promotes sustainability, said the Department for Food and Rural Affairs had issued more stringent targets to 2010.

“Under UK packaging regulations, any company handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year and with an annual turnover of more than £2million is obliged to register their obligation with a packaging compliance scheme or directly with the Environment Agency,” he said.

They must then provide evidence of their compliance with the annual recovery and recycling targets by purchasing Packaging Recovery Notes or Packaging Export Recovery Notes, he said.


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“However, these more stringent targets may increase the cost of compliance for many companies and while legislation is driving businesses to increasingly recognise their recycling commitments, many are still failing to seize new opportunities for resource efficiency along the way,” he said.

“We would like to see people increasingly working with their supply chains to investigate how cleaner design could help to minimise packaging volumes.

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“For example, reducing the amount of raw material specified at design stage can help minimise carbon emissions generated by extraction and transportation, as well as reducing production costs.

“In some cases, the cost of compliance could be reduced or even offset by identifying new efficiencies.”

Mr Best pointed out that as DEFRA plans to revise its waste strategy by spring this year to include product consumption, manufacturers should consider the disposal and reuse options for their products before they even leave the drawing board, and efforts to minimise packaging would be a natural extension of this.

By minimising packaging volumes, businesses could reduce or even eliminate their compliance costs under Producer Responsibility regulations, under which firms which fail to comply or register could face fines of thousands of pounds.

“Crucially, companies that do invest in sustainable design typically identify more efficient, innovative techniques and products that are more cost-effective or easier to make,” he said.

“For this reason, cleaner design could be described as a win-win situation for both industry and the environment and this latest announcement on packaging targets simply adds momentum to the case.

For more information, visit www.envirowise.gov.uk/cleanerdesign.

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