Recycling minister Rebecca Pow has said Defra continues to “liaise closely” with the Scottish government on the implementation of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).
At the Foodservice Packaging Association environment seminar yesterday (24 February), Mrs Pow explained that as the Scottish government gets ready to implement the scheme in July 2022, Defra will work with them to ensure a “coherent UK approach” for when it is put into effect in England the next year.
Mrs Pow added that Defra will also be publishing a second round of consultations in spring this year which includes the UK’s “final proposals” on the design of the DRS.
She added that the scheme should “incentivise” people to recycle packaging containers in a good condition, ready for reprocessing.
She explained: “Our objectives for DRS across the UK are to increase recycling for containers, deter littering of these containers and actively change consumer behaviour with regards to recycling and other environmental activities.
“Introducing a DRS will see a refundable deposit added to the price of a container, which people can reclaim when they return the empty drinks container. This will help to increase recycling of drinks bottles and cans and reduce littering.”
The minister also spoke about Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), and the effect this will have on the packaging sector.
“What this is really all about, is moving the shift of the responsibility to the producers”
Outlining Defra’s aims for the reformed EPR system, Mrs Pow said: “The modulation of fees introduced by EPR will incentivise producers to think carefully about the market, and the design of a product, which will therefore make it easier to reuse and recycle. We also intend that the EPR is used to ensure that it’s easier for consumers to know what packaging they can recycle.”
In a question and answer session, Mrs Pow was asked how hard-to-recycle materials such as film, will be dealt with in regards to EPR.
In response, Mrs Pow said that it will be up to the business to decide “what is necessary” and what “works for them”, in terms of these materials.
She continued: “What this is really all about, is moving the shift of the responsibility to the producers. So it’s up to them to decide what they put onto the market because they will be responsible for the cost during its lifecycle.”
Mrs Pow was also asked whether the UK’s departure from EU will provide an opportunity for the UK to develop a “unified approach” to legislation and whether Defra will be working in conjunction with packaging businesses.
To this, she replied: “The great thing is that we have left the EU now, and we have the opportunity to come up with our own system, and I hope it’s clear we are doing that in a very assertive way.
“Our waste and resources strategy is a really comprehensive strategy, with a circular direction. We consulted already on the EPR and DRS, and we do want to work with industry to do that. We realise what an important industry the packaging sector are so we do want to go hand in hand with industry, but at the same time, we want to achieve our goal of cutting down waste.”