23 July 2019 by Will Date

Consistency measures outlined in Environment Bill update

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, in what may be his last act in the job, has set out further details of the government’s Environment Bill including outlining which materials will form the core of its recycling consistency measures.

Defra has today published an Environment Bill ‘summer policy statement’, in which it outlines key strands of the government’s landmark environment policy, and how these will be taken forward through the Bill.

Defra has outlined the core set of materials that councils will be required to collect from households from 2023

‘A new direction for resources and waste management’ is among the priority areas, with further detail offered on a number of the steps being considered as part of the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy.

Commenting on the legislation, Mr Gove said: “The measures in our Environment Bill will position the UK as a world leader, ensuring that after EU Exit environmental ambition and accountability are placed more clearly than ever before at the heart of government.

“As we have set out today, our plans will improve air quality so that our children live longer, restore habitats and increase biodiversity, strive towards a more circular economy and ensure we can manage our precious water resources in a changing climate.”

A draft version of the Bill was published in December 2018 – although the Bill has yet to be introduced in the House of Commons.

Consultation responses

Published alongside the policy statement are responses to three of the four consultations linked to the Resources and Waste Strategy – on the deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks packaging, extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging and consistency in recycling collections.

On EPR, Defra confirms that it will bring forward primary powers in the Environment Bill to implement a new producer responsibility system.

“Further work to develop our policy proposals in all three areas will be undertaken in parallel ensuring they form a cohesive packaging of measures.”

Defra

However, it is not yet known which of the proposed models Defra will adopt – with a further consultation on the final proposals to take place in 2020, ahead of a 2023 implementation date.

Alongside this will be a further consultation in 2020 for the regulatory framework for introducing a DRS – through secondary legislation – with its intended introduction in 2023. Although, Mr Gove last week set out his preference for an ‘all-in’ DRS model, Defra notes today that the scope of the scheme is still to be decided (see letsrecycle.com story).

Outlining next steps for the legislation, Defra stated: “We will continue to develop the Impact Assessment and will assess the overall impact on business of our proposed policy measures of EPR, a possible DRS for drinks containers (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and household and business waste collection consistency (in England).

“Reforms to the packaging producer responsibility system are linked directly to those policy proposals and to the introduction of a DRS for drinks containers in Scotland. Further work to develop our policy proposals in all three areas will be undertaken in parallel ensuring they form a cohesive packaging of measures.”

Collection consistency

On collection consistency however, the government has been able to offer a more concrete response on the steps it will take to create greater harmonisation of collection systems for businesses and councils. This is in light of what the Department described as ‘strong support’ for its plans.

Food waste collections – either separate or commingled with garden waste – will also be a requirement for councils

Defra will amend legislation, again with a start date of 2023, to require all English local authorities to collect a core set of materials from households.

The core set of materials will cover at least:

Glass bottles and containers – including drinks bottles, condiment bottles, jars;

Paper and card – including newspaper, cardboard packaging, writing paper;

Plastic bottles – including clear PET drinks containers, HDPE (milk containers), detergent, shampoo and cleaning products;

Plastic pots tubs and trays, and;

Steel and aluminium tins and cans.

Plastics bags and film have not been included in the specification, despite support from individuals. Further consideration will be given to including Tetrapak cartons within the specification, Defra says.

On organics, Defra has indicated that it will press ahead with a requirement for separate food waste collections in most cases, although giving further consideration into how local authorities can deliver this in challenging areas, including those with high density accommodation.

Its proposals for councils to implement a free garden waste collection system are less certain – with Defra again stating that it would give further consideration to whether the measure is included in final legislation.

Related Links
Consultation Outcome: Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks bottles and cans
Consultation Response: Reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system
Consultation on consistency in household and business recycling collections in England

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