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February 7, 2008 12:00 AM

A local Euro MP has written to Joan Ruddock MP, the Minister responsible for waste, calling for the government to get its act together on recycling by obliging firms to redesign products and packaging, and invest in recycling, to help slow climate change.

Liz Lynne MEP wrote to the minister to express her disappointment in the revised targets for recycling, saying their limited scope means an opportunity has been wasted.

Speaking today, Liz Lynne said:

"It is obscene that 17% of the average household food bill pays only for the wrapping it comes in. It is also incredibly frustrating that many firms are not following scientific evidence or public opinion in order to reduce the amount of packaging used and make whatever used more recyclable.

"The government needs to act, but the new recycling targets, while an improvement, are a missed opportunity to force firms to do more.

"It is awful unwrapping new products knowing so much of the packaging will end up in landfill. A lot of packaging could be redesigned to use less raw materials, or so it can be split up more easily to make recycling easier.

"We also need to increase the quantity and quality of recycling facilities. Businesses should take back more packaging that is sold with their products. Consumers too need to be encouraged to reuse more of the 17 million carrier bags given out each year, through discounts, or bonuses."

On the UK's poor performance on recycling in comparison to other European countries Liz added:

"All countries need to do more on recycling but the UK is on balance a poor performer. Aluminium for example is easily recyclable, yet the UK is in the bottom third of European countries surveyed, not even managing to recycle half of cans produced. Why is this allowed to happen when the Nordic countries all manage to recycle 80% plus?


Notes to Editors:

Based on a survey of 18 European countries for 2005, Norway managed a recycling rate of 93% of aluminium cans, with Finland and Switzerland on 88%. The UK came 13th with 41%, with Hungary worst on 33%. (www.eaa.net)

The government's targets for aluminium and plastic recycling stand at 42% and 33% respectively by 2012, an increase of 1% per annum for aluminium and 2% for plastics.

The Liberal Democrats urged a stronger policy on recycling at their Autumn conference in Brighton: http://www.libdems.org.uk/news/lib-dems-plan-to-reduce-packaging.13181.html

Individuals can also write to Joan Ruddock MP to encourage the government to do more on recycling via the Friends of the Earth campaign: http://foe.co.uk/campaigns/waste/press_for_change/packaging/index.html