Extended producer responsibility is not the “magic answer to everything”, according to Shaun Gallagher, director of environmental quality at Defra.
Instead, individual measures such as extended producer responsibility (EPR) need to be part of a whole system approach across the supply chain, he suggested.
Mr Gallagher’s caution on producer responsibility came during his keynote address at the first day of the CIWM Conference in London today (13 June).
His address gave some indications of what can be expected from Defra’s Resource and Waste Strategy, to be published later this year.
“It will be structured around the entire lifecycle of products,” he said. And, government is currently looking at a number of measures to “maximise the life and value” of resources, such as tax incentives, targeted bans, producer responsibility and other incentives.
“No single intervention can stand alone. I’m acutely aware that this strategy can only have real impact if it all comes together in a whole system approach.”
However, Mr Gallagher indicated that large financial measures such as energy from waste tax and charges for household waste are not on the cards.
He was also unable to confirm whether statutory targets for local authorities will be explored, but he explained that Defra wants to work collaboratively with local government to look at the role which they have to play.
“We will be looking at how we can best incentivise and support local authorities to prove their part in the system.
“But to say now that we will not having any new requirements that may affect local government would be wrong.”
Industry also has a “critically important” role to play in the lifecycle of products, he said. Mr Gallagher referred to the Plastics Pact as one of a number “excellent and ambitious initiatives” to decrease waste and increase recycling.
“To say now that we will not having any new requirements that may affect local government would be wrong.”
Mr Gallagher also suggested he was pleased to see that business recognises the need for change and referred to the work undertaken by WRAP, INCPEN and ACP (see letsrecycle.com story).
Last month the European Council adopted new rules for waste management set out in the Circular Economy Package (see letsrecycle.com story). The package includes targets for member states to meet recycling targets for municipal waste of 55% by 2025 and 65% by 2035.
Mr Gallagher said he expects all of the provisions adopted by the EU Commission to be taken forward by the UK Government. Work is being carried out across Government on the strategy, he revealed.
And, he also touched on waste crime saying that having better tracking and monitoring of materials through the supply chain would be an aid to tackle the problem. Other measures to target waste crime are expected to be included in the document.
The keynote address followed a welcome by Professor David Wilson, president of CIWM who spoke about the global context of waste management and the position of the UK.