A Labour MP has called on the government to reduce the number of packaging compliance schemes operating in the UK, describing it as ‘one of the big flaws’ in the packaging compliance system.
Anna McMorrin, the MP for Cardiff North, who is also a member of the Environmental Audit Committee, made the comments in a parliamentary debate late yesterday (3 April).
During the debate, she told fellow MPs, including the resources minister Thérèse Coffey, that the “huge range” of packaging compliance schemes has led to a ‘breakdown’ in the system.
The adjournment debate was secured by Ms McMorrin and took place after 11:30pm, in support of her Packaging: Extended Producer Responsibility Bill.
According to Ms McMorrin, the principle of the PRN-based packaging compliance system, whereby ‘the more that packaging producers make, the more they pay’, “sounds quite fair.” But, she said, the “burden” of waste collection has fallen on local councils.
When discussing options for PRN reform, she expressed support for a ‘single centralised body’ PRN reform option, one of four set out in the Resources and Waste Strategy consultation in February.
“We need to get rid of one of the big flaws of the current system: the huge range of PRN and PERN compliance schemes. There are 52 such schemes, creating a market within themselves,” Ms McMorrin said.
She added: “It has been proven that having a vast array of schemes has led to the breakdown and abuse of the system, which needs to stop.
“A single centralised body could play that role in implementing the new EPR reforms, in ensuring that industry plays a key role, perhaps by sitting on the body’s board, and in ensuring accountability within that structure.”
In response to the comments from the Welsh MP, resources minister Dr Thérèse Coffey said the government had released its Resources and Waste Strategy in an attempt to “tie together the broader set of principles for extended producer responsibility” and the government’s ambitions for packaging recycling going forward.
The Strategy, parts of which are currently out for consultation, sets out four potential options for PRN reform, which would work towards a system of ‘full cost recovery’, ensuring that producers pay 100% of the costs of clearing up material placed on the market – compared to an estimated 10% as at present.
In summary, these are split into four options: an ‘enhanced business as usual’ approach, a ‘single management organisation’, a separate scheme for household and commercial packaging and a ‘deposit-based government managed system’, where producers would be an upfront fee for packaging redeemable once it is recycled.
“It will be a significant change that I believe will lead to great additions to improving the opportunities for recycling and the circular economy,” Dr Coffey said.
She added: “I assure the hon. Member for Cardiff North that we are working on the proposals, as she recognised. I am confident that together, across the House and indeed across the UK, we can bring those elements to reality.”