§ Mr. Bill O'Brien
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what discussions he has had with representatives of the packaging industry on the recovery targets set for the packaging industry up to 2001; what assessment he has made of the ability of the industry to achieve such targets; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) when he plans to make a statement on the future operation of the Packaging Waste Recovery Notes System; 
(3) what is his estimate of the number of businesses in the packaging industry that will be exempt from the packaging waste obligations as a result of a change in the financial turnover cut-off threshold to £2 million. 
§ Mr. Meacher
A consultation paper was published on 30 July 1998 which included proposals to increase the interim business recovery and recycling targets in 1999 467W and 2000 and over 350 responses were received. The UK packaging recovery rate is expected to have reached approximately 32 per cent. in 1998 and the interim business targets are designed to enable the UK to achieve the mandatory EC Directive recovery and recycling targets in 2001. Industry itself has reported that there was an oversupply of reprocessing capacity in 1998 compared with the targets that had to be met and this was damaging the market. The increase in the interim business recovery and recycling targets should therefore generate the necessary momentum to enable sufficient activity to be carried out to achieve the 2001 targets. A further consideration was the need for sufficient resources to be directed at generating the necessary collection and reprocessing capacity that will be needed to meet targets in 2001. With this additional infrastructure in place, the UK should be able to meet these mandatory targets.
I expect to make a statement about the future operation of the Packaging Waste Recovery Note System very shortly.
The Department's current estimates suggest that some 4,500 smaller businesses will be excluded from the scope of the Regulations as a result of the change to the financial turnover cut-off threshold in 2000.