The local authority recycling body, LARAC, has welcomed proposals for packaging producers to fund the full cost of the recycling of their products at the end of life.
Responding to the government’s consultation on plans to introduce an ‘extended producer responsibility’ regime for packaging waste, LARAC welcomed the government’s definition of ‘full cost recovery’ which includes the disposal and littering of packaging.
However, LARAC has also sought greater clarity as to how local authorities will receive funding through the new system. In particular the organisation has questioned the use of ‘reference costs’.
In the consultation Defra suggests reference costs for recycling. The department suggests that by taking into account the cost of collecting and sorting materials in specific areas, reference costs could be developed for different groupings of local authorities such as rural or urban councils, and those with high or low levels of deprivation. LARAC warns there is a “danger” that these could go against the concept of full cost recovery.
On consistency, LARAC said that the requirement to collect a consistent set of materials (as set out in separate consultation) can only be applied if greater emphasis is placed on consistent design of packaging and consistent materials used in packaging.
LARAC has also raised some concerns relating to the future governance model for EPR. Overall LARAC suggests that the proposed governance model two with a central body “offers the most effective way of managing packaging and the funds from EPR going forward”.
The organisation has shown support for mandatory labelling on packaging and is stating that OPRL is the “logical choice”. LARAC has said this will need to be supported by well-funded national campaigns and support for local campaigns to get people to use the services that local authorities provide.
Carole Taylor, chair of LARAC, said: “LARAC is pleased that the producers will be paying the full costs associated with their packaging after its intended use.
“Local authorities have been covering the collection and disposal costs of packaging for too long whilst at the same time trying to manage years of funding cuts under austerity measures. It is only right that the broad definition of full net cost covers disposal and littering, not just the recycling of packaging.”
While welcoming many aspects of Defra’s EPR proposals, responding to the deposit return scheme consultation, LARAC has called for the measure to be deferred.
This should be left until after EPR and consistency “have had a chance to work”.
LARAC added that deferring will also allow proper research into the full implications of a DRS in the UK.
The organisation claimed that bringing in a DRS at the same time as EPR and consistency measures “will cause confusion amongst the public, be expensive for producers and add a collection system that competes with kerbside collections”.
And, LARAC said that evidence suggests that councils could see their costs rise by an average of £126,000 if an “All In” scheme was introduced, and will “cannibalise the existing kerbside schemes”.