Defra published their Resources and Waste Strategy in December 2018 which laid out a 25 Year Environmental Plan, aiming to make the UK a world leader in resources efficiency and reducing the waste we create as a society; moving towards a more circular-economy.
The Resource and Waste Strategy was closely followed by four fundamental consultations that closed in May 2019, the results of which have now been published, alongside the Environmental Bill summer policy statement.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
This consultation discussed the basis for reforming the current producer responsibility system for packaging, setting out key principles and proposed features of an extended producer responsibility system. Exploring ways to better incentivise producers to manage resources more efficiently whilst placing greater financial and environmental responsibility on packaging producers.
Defra have confirmed that they intend to seek to introduce an extended producer responsibility scheme for packaging in 2023, resulting in obligated producers funding the full net cost recovery of packaging materials they place on the UK market. They will continue to consider responses and evidence submitted, conducting further analysis, before bringing final proposals forward for consultation in 2020.
Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)
The DRS consultation intended to consider the merits of introducing a DRS system to increase recycling rates and reduce littering by providing a simple and incentivised process for consumers to return drinks containers.
Defra received 84% agreement from respondents regarding the proposed principles of DRS and the majority of respondents wanted all materials to be included in a DRS system.
Throughout the remainder of 2019 Defra will be developing a second consultation with the expectation that they will consult on the specific details in early 2020 and plan to implement a DRS from 2023.
Plastic Packaging Tax (HM Treasury Consultation)
The consultation from HM Treasury outlined a new tax, as announced in the 2018 budget, which would be chargeable on the production and importing of plastic packaging containing insufficient recycled content. The proposed tax aims to support producer responsibility reforms whilst creating a greater demand for recycled plastic, consequently incentivising design, collection and recycling, and improving resource value and productivity.
Consistency in Recycling Collections
This consultation aimed to address the inconsistency in local authorities recycling and waste collections. Following extraordinary levels of public and consumer interest in the issue Defra is committed to introducing recycling consistency measures by 2023, in line with EPR and DRS.
Given the support for greater consistency across England, the government seek to implement legislation to require collection of the following dry materials as a minimum from 2023:
- Glass bottles and containers
- Paper and card
- Plastic bottles - including clear drinks containers, HDPE (milk containers), detergent, shampoo and cleaning products
- Plastic pots, tubs and trays
- Steel and aluminium tins and cans
Defra have noted the need to carefully consider how this will interact with DRS proposals, so the two complement each other in driving up recycling rates for some specific material types.
If you have any questions regarding the consultations and how they may affect your business, please do not hesitate to contact our team.