Speaking on 15 September at RWM & Letsrecycle Live during a panel discussion, Mr Jones warned that local authorities will need to act quickly on a range of measures in order to gain “first mover advantage” in procurement, before a rush of authorities act when waste legislation comes into force.
Speaking on consistent collections, he said: “I suspect the recent change of government is going to delay things even further but at some point, we’re going to hit the buffers on the expected time to implement these changes. Some of the things local authorities should be doing is finding out and thinking about implications.
“It’s clear that separate food waste is going to be a requirement and it’s not the most straightforward thing to do. We’re suddenly going to have hundreds of thousands of tonnes of food waste that is currently going into the residual bin, trying to find homes within the existing fleet of AD plants. There’s going to be a first mover advantage in securing AD capacity and additional vehicles, for example.”
The panel was chaired by John Coates, head of external affairs at LARAC, and also brought together Andrew Bird, head of environmental sustainability at Newcastle-under-Lyme borough council and Daniel Roberts from WRAP.
The group discussed the changes to local authority collections to come from legislation under the Resources and Waste Strategy, including the extended producer responsibility regime and consistency in kerbside collections.
Mr Bird pointed out that continuous delaying of legislation “can have a knock-on effect on whether targets will be met”. He added that many local authorities want to move forward with the changes but are hesitant to do so “in a period of no information”.
He also thought that it was important “to figure out the way to incentivise local authorities to go beyond the necessary”, as they play a key role in the supply chain.
The implementation of EPR, which will shift the responsibility for managing the packaging to producers, is expected to be “a big game changer, which should start to drive better design and more efficiency,” Mr Bird continued.
However, he questioned why the scheme administrator was being run by a public body.
“When the whole process started, it was supposed to be a producer-owned system. Then almost at the eleventh hour we find out that the administrator is going to be a public body, not owned by the producers. That does slightly concern me,” he remarked.
Continuing, he reasoned: “It seems to be an odd decision; I suppose the worry is that we have something that ends up being an over-bureaucratic system that deals in data regurgitation rather than achieving what EPR is supposed to do.
“If it is a public body, it needs to represent the sector and promote circular economy. I could see that happening when it was supposed to be producer-owned, as it would be in their interest. Now, I’m not so sure.”
Another barrier to councils moving forwards ahead of legislation is the compartmentalisation of the supply chain. An example pointed out by Mr Coates was that “one third of MRFs have no plans to introduce flexibles infrastructure until the legislation is finalised”.