Government announces waste and recycling overhaul

The Government has published its Resources and Waste Strategy this morning (December 18) which sets out a range of measures intended to overhaul waste and recycling in the UK.

The major policy announcement is that businesses and manufacturers of packaging will be expected to pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their waste, through a new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme, which the Government estimates will raise up to a £1bn a year for recycling and disposal.

The Government also set a potential date for the introduction of a deposit-return scheme, said they will introduce compulsory electronic tracking of waste and said they will ensure local authorities collect food waste from households every week.

Launching the strategy at Veolia’s recycling centre in London, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: ‘Our strategy sets out how we will go further and faster, to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Together we can move away from being a “throw-away” society, to one that looks at waste as a valuable resource.

‘We will cut our reliance on single-use plastics, end confusion over household recycling, tackle the problem of packaging by making polluters pay, and end the economic, environmental and moral scandal that is food waste.’

The Government will hope the strategy will go some way to address a much-criticised recycling system.

A report published in July from the National Audit Office (NAO) said the method used to calculate packaging recycling rates is ‘not sufficiently robust,’ accusing the Government of not facing up to ‘underlying recycling issues.’

To address this, the Government will introduce a ‘consistent set of recyclable material for collection,’ that will be funded by industry through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

The deposit return scheme is set to come into force from 2023, which was criticised by Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage.

He said on Twitter that a 5-year delay ‘could see another 28 billion plastic bottles escape the recycling system and end up in our ocean.’

In October last year, a study by consultants Eunomia, claimed introducing deposit return schemes for beer cans and soft drink bottles in England could help save local authorities £35m.

Simon Ellin of the Recycling Association welcomed the strategy, saying it was a ‘comprehensive document that has the potential to transform the recycling sector in England.’

‘In particular, the Strategy puts quality first and that is something we welcome,’ he added.

However, he says the paper does not mention how new UK recycling capacity will be funded.

‘We hope the consultation on this will address this omission. It also needs to look at how improvements can be made to the planning system to make it easier to set up new recycling capacity in the UK.’

 

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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