LARAC warns of contract costs due to EPR delay

The delay to the rollout of extended producer responsibility (EPR) could mean some councils will not introduce measures until 2030, the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) has warned.

And, the committee’s chair, Cathy Cook, has called for Defra to rethink some of the proposals as the impact assessment carried out at the time “is now out of date”.

Cathy Cook is chair of LARAC

Earlier today (3 March), it emerged that Defra has pushed back the phase-in period for EPR by 1 year to 2024 at least, saying it won’t be possible to implement the changes properly in time (see letsrecycle.com story).

Ms Cook has now issued a statement saying LARAC is “concerned to learn of the delay”, warning that it will hit council contracts.

She warned that councils have been signing temporary, more expensive short-term contracts so they can later go to the market with more confidence on what the legislation will mean.

Ms Cook said: “These options are however, becoming more unfeasible, and updated service contracts for collections and processing will end up being procured within in a vacuum of uncertainty, leading to increased costs for local taxpayers”.

The ability for a local authority to implement changes may be delayed until 2030

  • Cathy Cook, LARAC

Pressure

She warned that the only alternative will be for local authorities to award contracts with no provision for EPR until the next contract cycle, which could be a minimum of seven years.

“The ability for a local authority to implement the changes needed by EPR therefore, may now be delayed until 2030 or later.

“The original target within the Resources and Waste Strategy of 75% of packaging to be recycled by 2030 and a 65% recycling rate for municipal solid waste, only five years later by 2035, therefore puts Local Authorities under a huge amount of additional pressure”.

Assessment

Ms Cook also warned that the impact assessment undertaken by Defra when it launched the consistent collections and EPR consultations will be out of date.

The LARAC chair, who took over the role from Carole Taylor in November 2021, said the underpinning basis for the changes is therefore “no longer correct and should be reconsidered”.

She said LARAC will continue to engage with Defra on behalf of its members and will “endeavour to find compromises and solutions that will allow the earliest implementation of EPR, by reviewing the procurement rules that are driving this problem”.

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