Despite a dramatic crash in the global market for resused material last the UK recycled almost two-thirds of all packaging in 2008, according to the latest figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency.
Last year UK businesses contributed to the recovery of more than seven million tonnes of packaging waste of which 6.6 million tonnes were recycled, the equivalent of saving roughly 8.9 million tonnes of CO2.
Environment Minister Jane Kennedy said: "This is a really significant achievement and shows that we are making good progress on packaging recycling. Businesses which handle packaging have a vital role to play in reducing the amount of waste we're sending to landfill and I'm pleased to see they're doing their bit."
Environment Agency Chief Executive Dr Paul Leinster said: "The level of carbon saving - equivalent to the amount of CO2 generated by around one-and-a-half million UK homes each year - shows why it's important for all of us to keep on recycling. Last year was the best year yet for the amount of packaging waste recycled.
“Everyone - the public, local authorities and businesses - should be proud of what has been achieved and spurred on to do even more.
"We'll continue to help businesses meet their obligations and take tough action against those avoiding their responsibilities."
All EU Member States have targets set by the EU on packaging recycling and recovery. The 2008 targets were recycling 55 per cent and recovering 60 per cent of packaging across the year.
There are specific targets for a range of recyclable materials and the UK has met or exceeded all its targets:
* Paper: 79.8 per cent recycled (target 60 per cent)
* Glass: 61.3 per cent recycled (target 60 per cent)
* Metal: 56.9 per cent recycled (target 50 per cent)
* Plastic: 23.7 per cent recycled (target 22.5 per cent)
* Wood: 78.5 per cent recycled (target 15 per cent)