They say a week is a long time in politics, but for waste it can really transform things.
On Wednesday, 20 September, reports emerged that the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, was set to shelve a number of his net zero pledges, including “burdensome” recycling policies.
The following day, Rishi Sunak brought forward his planned speech and announced that he has “scrapped” plans for householders to have “seven bins” for recycling.
The immediate response to this was that consistency could have been scrapped, though the PM did not specify this.
To clear up some of the confusion, Defra announced shortly afterwards that the environment secretary Thérèse Coffey is to launch a scheme called ‘Simpler Recycling’, “formerly known as Consistency in Recycling”.
Defra specified that it was “never the case” that seven bins was required but said its new plans would revolve around some key points, with further details to follow soon.
These points were:
- A requirement to recycle with seven bins will not happen
- Will ensure all homes in England recycle the same materials
- Those materials won’t need to be separated at home
The plans have caused some confusion, as many in the industry have highlighted the fact that the consistency legislation was never going to have every householder have seven bins, with even Defra saying this “was never the case”.
The sector has expressed a range of perspectives regarding the recent introduction of the 'Simpler Recycling' initiative by the UK government. These viewpoints encompass cautious optimism, frustration, and the need for further clarification on the scheme's implications.
Some stakeholders stress the vital importance of streamlining recycling processes, making it more accessible for the public. They view Simpler Recycling as a step in the right direction, emphasising its potential benefits for both consumers and the environment.
There has been no mention of any further changes to extended producer responsibility or the deposit return scheme.
So, it seems in some ways that it is as you were for the policy for now, and the sector is still awaiting much-needed clarity.