With local elections taking place today (6 May), it is believed an announcement on the delayed consultation on consistent collections could be due very soon.
The consultation on consistency in recycling collections is one of three which will shake up the UK’s recycling system. Consultation documents relating to a deposit return scheme (DRS) and extended producer responsibility (EPR) were published on 24 March, but the consistency consultation failed to appear (see letsrecycle.com story).
Defra told letsrecycle.com on 15 April it remained “absolutely committed” to the proposed changes but confirmed the publication of the consultation document would not be until after today’s elections, when the full purdah period ceased (see letsrecycle.com story).
Purdah is the period between the announcement of an election and the formation of the new elected government, preventing central and local government from making announcements about any initiatives that could be seen to benefit any candidates or parties.
The death of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, on 9 April, following which nearly all government announcements were put on hold, is thought to have scuppered any chance of the publication of the consultation ahead of the full 14 April purdah deadline.
Sources close to Whitehall suggested to letsrecycle.com today that an announcement on the consultation was due imminently and could even arrive in the next day or two.
Concerns have been raised about the impact of the delay on responses to the other two consultations. With the consultations on DRS and EPR set to close on 4 June, there are fears there may be little time to work out how the policies contained in each consultation will affect each other.
Robbie Staniforth, head of innovation and policy at compliance scheme Ecosurety, told letsrecycle.com: “The interrelatedness of the three consultations is extremely significant. Just a few weeks to digest implications that will be felt by industry for the next decade or more is far from ideal.
“Given the inordinate complexity of the changes needed, an extra few weeks to respond may prove helpful for some stakeholders and ensure that government receives well-articulated feedback.
“However, there are still many unknown features of the EPR system that will make responding difficult, regardless of the timeframe given. I have confidence that the governments will continue to work through these issues in a collaborative fashion with industry as they have demonstrated to date.”
In a blog post on the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) website published yesterday (5 May), the organisation’s CEO Lee Marshall expressed concerns councils may only get one week with the consistent collections consultation before their responses to the DRS and EPR consultations are finalised.
Though the deadline is still a month away, internal sign off processes within councils can take up to three weeks.
Mr Marshall said: “The consistent collection consultation never made it to the starting gate before the pre-election period kicked in. That is frustrating to say the least as there is a lot of cross over with all three consultations, so it makes responding to the DRS and EPR ones that bit harder still.”
LARAC and others have lobbied Defra to extend the response deadlines for DRS and EPR without success, Mr Marshall said.
LARAC expressed “grave concerns” about the delay to the release of the consultation on consistent collections in late March (see letsrecycle.com story).
SECURE YOUR PLACE
The Resources & Waste Strategy Revisited Conference is taking place online on 12 May 2021. This full day conference will explore responses to the consultations and aims to bring the industry together for networking and discussions on all three documents. Visit HERE for details.