First Mile attacks Government adding new “unlawful” last minute fourth option to EPR business waste collections

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Bruce Bratley First Mile
First Mile chief executive Bruce Bratley

Waste and recycling company First Mile has warned that a new fourth option for business waste collections under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) rules would be “unlawful”.

First Mile said that a limited group of stakeholders received a new proposal from Defra last week prior to the closure of the consultation today and revealed that it “reintroduces the concept of zoning (or franchising) for waste services, handing the power of setting up these franchises to a monopoly EPR administrator and local councils”.

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Previously and publicly, the Defra EPR consultation had included three options for collection of business waste that could lead to market intervention via either the proposed Scheme Administrator or compliance schemes. In these scenarios, they could also be potentially responsible for processing, sorting and selling the material.

Under this fourth option, local councils would take control of waste services to small businesses, but First Mile believes all of these four options are potentially unlawful.

First Mile chief executive Bruce Bratley said: “There’s no doubt that the principal of polluter pays in EPR is fundamentally a good thing, but this last-minute fourth proposal has major flaws and is outside the Government’s Code of Practice on Consultations.

“It is simply unreasonable that Defra would bring in new and significant changes to a major consultation at the eleventh hour. Defra’s request for ‘feedback either through the consultation or directly’ is totally unachievable with one week to go, and when the fourth option does not form part of the consultation. 

“Throughout all of this has been an implication that somehow the present private waste management industry is ‘broken’ and that waste collection companies are not offering customers efficient, cost-effective recycling services. This is simply not true and there is a significant and real risk that the EPR proposals lead to a worse environmental outcome, higher costs and the introduction of volatility to a recycling market that needs stability and lawful support.”  

First Mile instead proposes that packaging producers pay for:

  • An education and training budget to provide the necessary support for waste producers to adopt the Consistent Collections proposals. 
  • An enforcement budget for each Local Authority to employ enforcement officers to ensure that businesses are complying with their obligations and to improve the street scene. Local Authorities will be much better placed to enforce than the Environment Agency. 

This week has seen a letter co-ordinated by the Environmental Services Association sent to Defra, calling on it to delay proposals on business waste collections until a suitable system can be found.

The Recycling Association has also criticised the consultation’s proposals on business waste warning they will “wipe out” successful recycling and waste businesses.

Responses to the consultation can be submitted here https://consult.defra.gov.uk/extended-producer-responsibility/extended-producer-responsibility-for-packaging/consultation/

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