The UK Government has unveiled policy initiatives to boost recycling and broaden the national producer responsibility regime.
Four different public consultations have been announced, each lasting 12 weeks, covering deposit return schemes (DPS), extended producer responsibility (EPR); consistency in municipal collections and a tax on plastic packaging not having at least 30% minimum recycled content.
Responses are being sought on two different DRS strategies, an inclusive scheme for all beverage containers and dealing only with ‘on-the-go’ bottles.
The government has followed suggestions from Brussels and wants to move from the current PRN system to one of ‘full net cost recovery’ whereby the value chain pays up to 100% of the costs of retrieving the packaging it places on the market.
The third consultation, concerning consistency, would see all councils collecting similar materials. Weekly food waste collections are also proposed. Finally, the 30% tax proposal, if accepted, would come into force in April 2022. All consultations run until 13 May and the outcomes will be reflected in an Environment Bill due later this year.
Environment secretary Michael Gove said: ‘We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste. Through our plans, we will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste and end the confusion over household recycling.’
The Environmental Services Association, which represents waste managers in the UK, said the EPR proposals should help put sustainability ‘at the heart’ of packaging design and ensure that more can be recycled. The tax on plastic packaging was described as ‘a step in the right direction’ to drive demand for more recycled content.
ESA executive director Jacob Hayler, said: ‘By reshaping the way waste is managed we have a real opportunity to incentivise producers to do the right thing, inject funding into the system, and reduce the confusion about what can be recycled.’
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