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UK needs stronger producer responsibility and crime crackdown

Recyclers have heard a call to arms as the UK government prepares to unveil its resources and waste strategy before the end of the year.

Phil Piddington, the new chair of the UK’s Environmental Services Association (ESA) which represents waste managers, said his priorities included campaigning for stronger producer responsibility, ‘clear measures’ to increase recycled content in products and against waste crime. The managing director of Viridor accepted his new role at the ESA’s annual lunch in London and called on the Government to make recycled content in products mandatory if reform of the packaging recovery note system and a new plastics tax do not deliver.

Phil Piddington: ‘effective measures’ may deter criminals

‘We need stronger producer responsibility which encourages better product and packaging design, and which properly funds the collection, separation and processing of materials,’ he said. ‘To achieve real resource efficiency, we must ensure there are viable end markets but for this, we need, and hope to welcome, clear measures to encourage the use of increased proportions of recycled content.

Mandatory recycled content possible

‘This could be achieved by using variable charges under the new producer responsibility scheme, or through the Treasury’s new plastics tax if rates are high enough. But, if these measures aren’t enough to encourage retailers and manufacturers to change their behaviour and use recycled content, then the government should go further and make it mandatory.’

Piddington said the ESA would also be prioritising work with government on ‘developing effective measures to stop criminals entering the waste sector’. He welcomed the government’s recent review of serious and organised waste crime.

The departing chair Stewart Davies spoke of an explosion in public interest in recycling. He said the ESA had worked hard during the summer to inform the development of the new government resources and waste strategy. ‘We are building a collaboration across the value chain for a sector deal,’ he said, adding that the ESA had co-ordinated the launch in November of a UK Resources Council to work with government to deliver a transition to a resource-efficient UK economy.

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