Skip to main content


Volume 462: debated on Thursday 28 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps his Department has taken to increase the level of recycling of plastic in the UK; (145620)

(2) what estimate he has made of the proportion of households able to recycle plastic packing through doorstep collection.

Recycling is strongly promoted by a range of Government policies. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is working to maximise the amount and quality of recyclate used in UK manufacturing operations.

The demand for recycled plastic is very strong, both from UK manufacturers and overseas markets. The UK currently recycles or recovers approximately 19 per cent. of all plastic consumed, and this is set to increase to over 25 per cent. by 2010. WRAP has a number of projects over the next two years which aim to switch manufacturing processes from virgin to recycled materials, including a target to support the recycling of an additional 16 kilo tonnes of plastic bottles—an increase of 30 per cent. from current levels.

The new Waste Strategy for England, which we published in May, focuses action on key waste materials for greater scope for improving environmental and economic outcomes, one of which is plastic. The Strategy recognises that recycling plastics shows significant potential for carbon and energy savings through displacing virgin materials. Actions set out in the Strategy include developing proposals (subject to further analysis) for higher packaging recycling targets beyond the 2008 EC Packaging Directive targets, and supporting WRAP in its work to increase recycling of plastics and the recycled content of certain plastic containers.

We have set demanding targets, both nationally and locally, for household waste recycling and composting and the Waste Strategy sets even higher national targets, to reach at least 40 per cent. by 2010, 45 per cent. by 2015 and 50 per cent. by 2020. These targets are not material-specific, but we expect the range of materials collected by local authorities, including plastics, to increase further as targets become more demanding and as collection and treatment capacity increases.