Environment Secretary seeking to address EPR issues

The environment secretary of England, Thérèse Coffey, recently spoke about the government's efforts to introduce consistent recycling collections in the country.

During an Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) session, she also revealed that she is looking into extending producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging in an attempt to address concerns raised by the industry.

The EAC session was held following recent announcements on environment policy and aimed to address the concerns expressed by the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) that the majority of the government's environment targets were not on track.

Environment Secretary, Thérèse Coffey. Image Credit: Parliament TV

When asked about Defra's priorities, Dr. Coffey said that the department is close to resolving consistent recycling and wants to make progress with EPR. She stated that she is aware of the industry's concerns and is doing a "deep dive" to address them before the government can consider any alternative forms of EPR. David Hill, the director general for environment at Defra, later emphasised the significance of packaging reforms in terms of net zero commitments and stated that the packaging reforms program accounts for 75 to 80% of the effort share for the waste sector.

Ms. Webbe, an independent MP for Leicester East, also asked about the introduction of EPR for textiles. The Resources and Waste Strategy 2018 had identified textiles as one of the five waste streams that could potentially be subject to EPR, but no consultation has yet taken place. Dr. Coffey replied that textiles are not going to be included in EPR in the near future and that the focus is currently on packaging EPR. Mr. Hill explained that sequencing also plays a role in policy introduction and that if additional EPR schemes are brought forward, it increases the cumulative load on the industry and businesses to adapt to the changes. He concluded that there is a lot of work being done around textiles but reiterated the environment secretary's points about prioritizing packaging.


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