11 October 2017 by Elizabeth Slow

LARAC and Coffey cautious about DRS report

Both the local authority recycling advisory committee (LARAC) and recycling minister Therese Coffey have expressed caution in light of the latest report on Deposit Return Schemes from Keep Britain Tidy Group.

The study, which is supported by the Campaign to Protect Rural England and written by Eunomia, claimed that councils would benefit from the introduction of a Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS) for drinks containers in England.

deposit return schemes

The study claimed that councils would benefit from the introduction of a Deposit Refund Scheme for drinks containers in England

The report found that councils across England could save up to £35 million every year if a DRS for plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans was introduced. (see letsrecycle.com story)

Speaking at the annual UK LARAC Conference in Nottingham today, (11 October), Therese Coffey, expressed a note of caution about the report.

Addressing an audience of local authority officers, she said: “Eunomia are now saying you are actually going to save money and we are going to look very carefully at it. I’m not sure just choosing four councils is a basis to replicate the entire market.”

Kerbside collection

In response to the report, LARAC said it feels that a study based on a sample of just 1% of UK local authorities does not prove that DRS is suitable for the UK, pointing out that most countries with successful DRS systems implemented them before those countries had mature and robust kerbside collection schemes.

The organisation said it believes that funds should be pushed into the existing kerbside collection infrastructure and this would deliver a bigger increase in the overall recycling rate at a more effective cost.

LARAC has reminded industry that the UK has a ‘virtual blanket coverage’ of kerbside collections for beverage containers and to duplicate that existing system with new DRS infrastructure “does not make economic sense.”

Speaking from Nottingham on the first day of the LARAC Conference, Andrew Bird, Chair LARAC, said: “The headline savings coming from the modelling in this report are unlikely to be achieved to the levels stated in the real world. LARAC believes that Producer Responsibility should be extended in the UK but in the case of packaging and in particular beverage containers, through the robust and consistent collection services provided by local authorities and their partners from the private waste industry.

“Investment in on the go recycling infrastructure and communications could be a much more meaningful way of producers really helping to make a difference and cut local authority costs.”

“Investment in on the go recycling infrastructure and communications could be a much more meaningful way of producers really helping to make a difference and cut local authority costs.” 


Andrew Bird
LARAC

Funding

LARAC said it believes that the funding needed to implement a new vast DRS infrastructure will be better spent on existing collection systems and give a better increase in the overall recycling rate.

The headline figure of potential savings also ‘masks’ the reality of where in the chain the savings are made which will typically mean an increase for a local authority, either on the collection side or on the treatment side, LARAC said. The organisation suggests that in the real world each scenario will be different depending on contract terms, access to sorting facilities, life cycle of vehicles and many more factors.

LARAC called on the wider industry to work with it to collate and develop a ‘wide and robust’ evidence base for the most appropriate way of maximising funds for recycling and use of existing kerbside and bring site recycling schemes.


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