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Budget 2016: Plastic & Glass packaging target changes confirmed

16th March 2016

Melanie Harper

The Treasury have today (16 March) announced as part of the Budget 2016 their decision to reduce the packaging recycling targets for plastics and glass.

The decision comes after a consultation was published in November by Defra on changes to the plastic and glass packaging targets.

The consultation proposed options for revised targets for plastic packaging recycling business targets for 2016 & 2017 and new plastic and glass packaging targets for 2018-2020.

Plastic packaging business target

The existing plastic and glass packaging targets for 2013-17 were consulted on in 2011 and set using the best evidence available from business at the time.

Glass targets were then revised and updated in 2014 following the publication of the GlassFlow report which investigated the data used to calculate targets.

In 2014, Defra commissioned a PlasticFlow report which indicated that a significantly lower amount of plastic packaging had been placed on the market than what had been estimated in 2011/2012 meaning that the targets are currently based on the expectations of much higher waste arising. It would be therefore be possible to reduce the targets and still maintain a similar recycling rate.

Plastic and glass packaging targets

Domestic targets for all materials expire in 2017.  Member states are required by the Packaging Directive to deliver a specified recycling rate and to maintain that rate each year thereafter.

We currently have targets set up to 2017 so it is important that we set targets beyond that from 2018 onwards.

New targets for the remaining materials will be consulted on at a later date.

For a full summary of the options regarding the changes to the plastic and glass packaging targets, please click here.

Budget 2016

The Budget 2016 announcement revealed that the government will legislate later in 2016 to reduce statutory plastic packaging targets for 2016 and 2017, to reduce the burden on businesses.

It has also been confirmed that the government will set new recycling targets for glass and plastic packaging for 2018, 2019 and 2020.


For Plastic, the existing target will be reduced to 49% for 2016 and then increased by 2% each year to 2020 until it reaches 57%. This will be welcomed news for plastic producers and should stabilise the plastic PRN market, however there was some challenge in meeting the 2015 target of 47% and so the increase to 49% for 2016 is unlikely to cause any immediate reduction in the price of plastic PRN’s.


For Glass, the existing target of 77% will be maintained until 2017 and then increased by 1% each year to 2020, until it reaches 80%. This announcement should be welcome for glass producers as it should assist in maintaining the stability the glass PRN market experienced last year.

For more information about the packaging targets or the packaging regulations, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our experts.