Defra confirmed that is was reviewing its policy and that changes will be announced mid-September, said company spokesperson Kevan McClair. The department would not discuss specifics of the revisions.
However, the Environment Agency (EA), the group that monitors and enforces Defra recycling regulations, believes that Defra will close a loophole that allows offshore companies like Pepsi and their subsidiary Walkers, to shirk obligations to recycle packagingwaste.
The announcement comes as manufacturing companies and regulators are pushing to meet EU quotas for recycling packaging waste. The EU target for the 25 member states is a 60 per cent recovery and 55 per cent recycling of packaging wastes by 2008. Despite shortfalls in 2004, the UK is on target to meet this quota.
EA spokesperson Jeff Cooper told FoodProductionDaily.com that bringing foreign companies like Pepsi into the limits of UK legislation will ensure that the UK meets the EU mandate.
"It has taken a long time for this glitch to come to light - it has only surfaced in the last two years," said Cooper. "Pepsi [Europe], which is a Swiss based company, is part of a gap in the regulations… if the packaging is owned by an overseas company then it doesn't pick up recovery responsibility in the UK. So part of the obligation is lost."
New requirements set by Defra would put extra cost pressures on foreign companies that participate in the UK food industry since the sector is one of the largest producers of packaging waste.
However, the EA said that noncompliance would mean a further burden to suppliers and retailers.
"The cost to businesses is that 37 per cent of the obligation for recycling is not being met," said Cooper. "This means that businesses that are obligated, such as retailers and packaging suppliers, will have to account for the share that is not picked up by companies like Walkers and Pepsi."
Pepsi owns well-known brands such as Walkers and Quaker and is thought by the EA to be the largest company not participating in the UK recycling system.
Under the EU's Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, countries must introduce systems for the return and collection of used packaging to attain the targets. By the end of 2008 a minimum of 60 per cent of packaging waste must be recovered or incinerated. Between 55 and 80 per cent of packaging waste must be recycled. For glass, paper and board the target is 60 per cent by weight. For metals the target is 50 per cent, for plastics 22.5 per cent and for wood 15 per cent.
Defra's amended targets for 2006 through to 2008 include an annual four to five percentage point increase in the existing glass recycling targets. Targets for plastics packaging recovery would also be increased.
Producers and schemes demonstrate compliance with their recovery and recycling obligations by purchasing packaging waste recovery notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recovery notes (PERNs) from reprocessors and exporters. The PRNs and PERNs are issued in relation to tonnages of UK packaging waste delivered for reprocessing or export.