Sector dismayed but ‘not surprised’ as consistency could be scrapped later

With the prime minister Rishi Sunak set to confirm later today that some of the key policies in the Resources and Waste Strategy will be cancelled or postponed, two of the leading sector associations have reacted in dismay. 

Last night, the BBC published parts of a leaked speech the PM was set to deliver, halting a number of net zero pledges such as “burdensome” recycling pledges, with consistency mentioned specifically (see letsrecycle.com story). The future of extended producer responsibility and the deposit return scheme is unknown.

With more than two years passing since the second consultation on consistent collections was published, and Defra not providing much further clarity, confidence that the policy would progress this close to an election was already low.

The report yesterday, while unconfirmed, will be the final nail in the coffin for hopes that the policy could progress. The BBC has reported this afternoon that Rishi Sunak will deliver his speech later today, and the last remaining hope would be that he has a change of heart.

Defra this morning passed enquiries on the future of consistency and other waste policies on to 10 Downing Street, but the disappointment in the sector is palpable.

‘Little surprise’

Jacob Hayler, executive director of the Environmental Services Association, said: “Given years of wavering on its Resources and Waste Strategy, reports that key elements of the reforms are set to now be scrapped by Government come as little surprise to our sector, but are deeply disappointing nonetheless.

Jacob Hayler
Jacob Hayler is executive director of the ESA

“These reforms would make it easier for millions of people across England to recycle properly, helping to boost stagnant recycling rates and reduce the volume of waste sent to landfill or energy recovery, while also creating thousands of green jobs and supporting cash-strapped councils – all of which are now being placed at risk.”

While it is unclear exactly which policies could come under threat, with the PM saying earlier this year that producers have raised concerns over EPR directly with him, Mr Hayler said t
he multiple policies within the Resources and Waste Strategy “must work together in a single system”.

He added: “To scrap one element is to scrap the whole reforms – which multiple industries have been working with government on for more than five years now, and planning their business around, at huge cost. 


“Scrapping these reforms puts at risk the potential for billions of pounds worth of investment by our sector in new green infrastructure and will lead to England falling behind its devolved neighbours in Wales and Scotland who are pursuing a more progressive policy agenda for recycling and waste, with Wales in particular demonstrating what can be done with the right policy direction and clarity.” 


We need action on EPR and consistency, not another break or policy change

  • Paul Sanderson, Recycling Association


 Elsewhere, the Recycling Association’s chief executive Paul Sanderson said while further detail is awaiting, the language used in the reports concerns him.

He said: “Obviously, we await the detail on this. But the idea that recycling policy that was drafted by this Government in conjunction with stakeholders across the value chain is ‘burdensome’ is very worrying.

“We’ve been waiting five years since the publication of the Resources and Waste Strategy and we need action on EPR and consistency, not another break or policy change. I hope the Prime Minister thinks again, but I fear the worst.”


Lee Marshall, CIWM policy & external affairs director, said the institution is “very concerned by stories of a government U-turn on key climate and resources policies.”

He said: “The proposed consistent collections policy is designed to make recycling easier, with every household being able to recycle the same materials irrespective of where they live in England. Also, contrary to some sensationalist media, it is not about giving them lots of containers.

“If meaningful progress is not made on consistent collections and extended producer responsibility (EPR), the UK will have missed a huge opportunity to implement a step change in the way we manage our finite resources and the future viability of our planet.”

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