Businesses and trade bodies in the waste and resources sector have responded to the launch of Defra’s anticipated Resources and Waste Strategy consultations yesterday (18 February) and called for a collaborative approach to waste policy.
“By reshaping the way waste is managed we have a real opportunity to incentivise producers to do the right thing, inject funding into the system, and reduce the confusion about what can be recycled.”Jacob Hayler
Among those to lead the responses, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) has welcomed the government’s “ambition”. ESA said extended producer responsibility (EPR) proposals should help put sustainability “at the heart” of packaging design and ensure that more can be recycled. And, greater consistency in collections and a Deposit Return Scheme should complement EPR in boosting recycling rates, the Association added.
ESA also hailed a tax on plastic packaging as “a step in the right direction” to drive demand for more recycled content. However, ESA warned that it is crucial that the four initiatives “work together in harmony”.
Following the publication of the consultations, ESA’s executive director, Jacob Hayler, said: “By reshaping the way waste is managed we have a real opportunity to incentivise producers to do the right thing, inject funding into the system, and reduce the confusion about what can be recycled.”
However, Mr Hayler warned against complacency. “These are very complicated areas and we must be careful to avoid unintended consequences, such as increased waste crime,” he added.
Commenting on the launch of the consultations, Paul Vanston, chief executive at packaging industry organisation, INCPEN, described the consultations as marking “a brilliant opportunity” to boost the nation’s recycling performance.
“The whole value chain needs to work together to make recycling easier for citizens at home and on-the-go.”Paul Vanston
“The whole value chain needs to work together to make recycling easier for citizens at home and on-the-go. We also need to make sure big increases in funding from producers go to the parts of the recycling system where those funds can add the most value. Substantially increasing the quantity and quality of recyclates is imperative.”
And, Mr Vanston emphasised the importance of collaboration in order to implement UK-wide systems. “In 20 years’ time it would be good for everyone to see the UK-wide systems designed in 2019 still operating well, and delivering the 65%+ recycling rates we can be proud of. That’s the opportunity we now need to grasp together.”
The Renewable Energy Association has welcomed the Government’s proposals to reform the waste system as a “huge step” for the industry.
Jeremy Jacobs, technical director of the REA, said: “These proposals along with pre-existing schemes such as those announced in the Resources and Waste Strategy published last year, exemplify the type of comprehensive thinking and initiative needed to support the UK’s ambitions of being a world leader in mitigating the impacts of climate change.
“In order to capitalise on the benefits these proposals would bring, the government must ensure they work with industry to implement efficient changes to existing infrastructure.”Jeremy Jacobs
“In order to capitalise on the benefits these proposals would bring, the government must ensure they work with industry to implement efficient changes to existing infrastructure.”
Alupro – the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation – has described the consultations as a “unique opportunity to develop a more coherent, fully inclusive system that benefits all”.
Rick Hindley, executive director, said: “We are working with other organisations to ensure that responses to the consultations are aligned and can be implemented across all four nations. We are undertaking research projects to assess the impact, costs and unintended consequences of the various proposals.
“Aluminium cans already achieve recycling rates of 72%, and we are optimistic that the options in the consultations will ensure that rates for all aluminium packaging continues to increase.”
Jeff Rhodes, head of environmental and external affairs at waste management firm Biffa, said it is “vital” that new ways are found to use resources more efficiently and that the various new schemes being consulted on “the potential to drive this”.
“We have campaigned for a collaborative, comprehensive approach to waste policy reform for a long time and it’s vital that the new measures to achieve this are rolled out without further delay,” he said. “Currently, we are seeing more public confusion and materials complications creeping in through new or alternative materials being introduced by producers and retailers, without giving full consideration to unintended negative consequences.
“Vital to the delivery of all this is continued investment in the UK’s waste management services and infrastructure.”Jeff Rhodes
“Vital to the delivery of all this is continued investment in the UK’s waste management services and infrastructure, which provides the sector with plenty of opportunity, provided that Government’s new measures deliver a clear policy direction, realistic targets and workable new systems.”
Robbie Staniforth, head of policy at packaging compliance scheme, Ecosurety, also welcomed the publication. He said: “Hats off to Defra for listening to our calls. Not only have they released all of the consultations at the same time, they have also ensured we have a full 12 weeks to analyse, debate and respond.
“This is the best opportunity to improve packaging outcomes for a generation and I’m sure opportunity will be seized by the entire value chain.”
The Welsh deputy minister for housing and local government, Hannah Blythyn has urged businesses and individuals in Wales to contribute to three of the UK-wide consultations on EPR, DRS and a plastics tax.
The Welsh Government said it has been working with the other UK nations on a comprehensive UK wide approach to address the problems created by commonly littered single use plastics.
“I am particularly keen to explore whether a DRS for drinks containers would work for Wales, given our already high recycling rate.”Hannah Blythyn
Hannah Blythyn said: “While the consultations are being launched jointly across the whole of the UK, our position as a world leader in recycling means our circumstances are different from the rest of the UK. I am particularly keen to explore whether a DRS for drinks containers would work for Wales, given our already high recycling rate.
“I would like to hear views from all sectors on these proposals as I want to understand the likely impact on local authority income and recycling rates, and also on businesses. I would also like to hear from members of the public.”