In packaging news across the Atlantic, Europe is trying to protect its domestic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) industry, while England is wrestling with how much food packaging materials should be downsized.

The European Union has imposed new tariffs on PET imports from Iran, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, on grounds that they are government-subsidized. Iranian PET exports will receive the highest tariff, at about $192 per ton, because they allegedly receive the highest subsidy from the Iranian government.

The EU took its action after complaints that the three Middle East countries were dumping PET resin below cost in Europe. The dumping complaint was ruled unfounded, but the EU did find that the resin received a government subsidy. The result will be propped-up PET prices in Europe, which the EU expects to be shared among bottle blowers, beverage bottlers and end users.

Meanwhile, in England, grocery packaging has been reduced on an individual basis, but the aggregate goals for packaging reduction have not been met due to increased overall sales.

 Leading UK retailers, including grocery chains Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, have collectively reduced their packaging by 520,000 tons from 2005 to 2009, according to a report from the Waste Resources & Action Programme (WRAP), a government-sponsored watchdog organization. WRAP cited examples of packaging reduction that included alterations to beverage bottles by Coca-Cola and ketchup bottles by H.J. Heinz Co.

The UK met one of WRAP’s goals by stopping the growth of discarded packaging by 2008. However, a “stretch goal” of reducing total discards by 2010 was unmet; the projection for total packaging waste this year stands unchanged at 2.9 million tons. WRAP explained that the lightweighting in food packaging was offset by an overall 6.9% increase in grocery sales.