More pressure on Defra over business waste plans

The Recycling Association has ramped up the pressure on Defra over its proposals for the collection of packaging from businesses, warning that they will “force successful recycling businesses into administration”.

Business waste
The proposals for the collection of packaging waste from businesses have been criticised by parts of the industry

In a statement yesterday (2 June), Simon Ellin, the Association’s chief executive, said while there is “much to support” in the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) consultation, the proposals on business waste are “anti-competitive and risk decimating businesses that collect and recycle business waste”.

Defra unveiled its plans for the collection of packaging waste from businesses in its second EPR consultation in March, which were questioned by some in the industry (see story).

Estimated to cost £1.5 billion, Defra says the proposals will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of packaging waste collection services and increase recycling.

However, Dr Ellin said: “There is a very strong argument that waste management costs are currently dealt with by businesses as part of their day-to-day operations and it would make sense for this to continue in most circumstances.

“Rather than tearing up the existing system, we should make it more effective by legislating and regulating for businesses to separate materials in order to promote high quality recycling.

“Business collections are already a mature and successful market that encourages innovation”

Simon Ellin

“We need a nip and tuck, not a revolution. If you take cardboard, circa 80% of the cardboard is already recovered and the fibre we get from businesses tends to be very high quality. We don’t need to start all over again, but build on what we already have to collect more. Business collections are already a mature and successful market that encourages innovation. It is not a broken system like household that requires reform.”

Scheme administrator

Defra included three options in the consultation: ‘a scheme administrator system’, a ‘compliance scheme led payment mechanism’ and a ‘compliance scheme-led free bin approach’.

The Recycling Association explained that under the options proposed by Defra , there would be intervention by the proposed scheme administrator in the market. The Association added that in “the most extreme parts of these proposals, commercial recycling and waste businesses would lose control of the material.

Business waste
Dr Simon Ellin has been CEO of the Recycling Association since 2010

“Instead, compliance schemes or the scheme administrator would handle the material, despite having no expertise in doing this,” it added.

Additionally, Defra has also proposed potentially creating commercial zones for waste collection later this decade, and again this is opposed by The Recycling Association.

Simon Ellin added: “We continue to believe that a free market approach is the best solution for efficient and sustainable collections. This allows for innovation, helping to keep costs low for producers and keeping successful recycling firms in business.

“There is no good reason why recycling and waste companies of all sizes should be forced to bid for collection contracts where they have no ownership of the material. Profits are often based on the ownership of this material and sale of the processed goods. Many businesses, especially those that specialise in commercial collections will not survive these changes.

The Recycling Association is encouraging its members, other recycling businesses and stakeholders to respond to the consultation to put their views forward ahead of the deadline for responses tomorrow.


The statement came less than 24 hours after a letter coordinated by the Environmental Services Association (ESA), countersigned by Dr Ellin, urged Defra to re-think the proposals (see story).

The letter said there is concern that the three payment options for the management of business packaging waste in the extended producer responsibility (EPR) consultation “are not sufficiently developed to be implemented in the proposed timeframes”, and risk increasing costs to consumers.




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