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LARAC urges government to “prioritise” waste reforms

The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) has called on the future government to “prioritise” waste management reforms. 

To complement the proposed changes to secondary legislation, the government will introduce updates to the national infrastructure planning guidance by the spring of 2024.

The body has said it “fully supports” Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which mandates that packaging producers take full financial responsibility for the lifecycle of its products which includes the sorting, collecting and recycling of its packaging materials. 

It has highlighted that the delays in the implementation of the scheme have left local authorities “in limbo” as they are unable to plan and budget for the service changes.

Due to these challenges, LARAC has called for the clarification of the definitions of “efficient and effective” processes for local authorities to comply with EPR. 

It also added that assurances should be given to councils that the funding for EPR will be additional to what councils already receive for waste collections and not reduce existing central government funding for local services. 

Simpler Recycling  

LARAC has also urged the new government to make material collection consistent across local authorities, while still leaving room for local flexibility in service delivery. It has stated that the recent proposal from the UK government for fortnightly collections contradicts the majority consultation response and “undermines” the goals of Simpler Recycling Reforms. 

Additionally, the body has encouraged the government to reconsider its stance on residual waste collection frequencies and recognise the importance of “longer intervals for residual waste collections in achieving recycling targets and reducing waste across the UK”. 

DRS 

The organisation has also advocated for delaying the implementation of the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) until after the EPR and Simpler Recycling Reforms are fully operational. It highlighted that the decision to delay the DRS scheme until October 2027 leaves a funding gap for local authorities managing DRS materials from the start of EPR in April 2025. 

Given the potential gap, LARAC has called upon the new government to find interim funding solutions to manage DRS materials until full integration with the EPR scheme and “transparent processes” for local authorities to manage and reintegrate DRS materials without incurring “additional, uncompensated costs”. 

LARAC chair, Cathy Cook, stated: “We look forward to collaborating with the next government to enhance the effectiveness of waste collection and recycling systems in the UK. It is imperative that we work together to achieve our collective environmental goals.”  

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