The Food and Drink Federation has said that the Government’s proposed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system is too centralised and costly.
While supporting the idea of EPR, it warned that Defra had not learned from other EPR systems around the world that work.
In an article for the House Magazine, Food and Drink Federation chief executive Karen Betts wrote: “It’s welcome that Defra is now regulating for EPR – and not before time. The food and drink industry strongly supports EPR which, if done well, will enable packaging to be recycled over and over again.
“But instead of drawing on the decades of experience in schemes around the world, Defra is designing a novel EPR scheme of its own. This design is overly costly. Almost uniquely among international schemes, it will be heavily centralised and government run. Its starting cost is £1.7bn a year, and all indications are that these costs will escalate quickly.
“Experience from around the world tells us that industry should be made responsible for the collection and recycling of packaging materials. This acts as a powerful incentive to businesses to use less packaging. International best practice also shows that schemes which are run in the private sector to stretching government targets are proven to drive up both recycling rates and the use of recycled materials in everyday products – creating a ‘circular economy’.”
She added that Defra’s highly centralised scheme is unlikely to attract the much needed investment into UK recycling infrastructure, won’t drive up the use of recycled materials as the system won’t generate enough, and will waste precious public resources.
“We need the UK government to implement EPR well, all the more so because of the cost-of-living crisis. But instead of a partnership between industry and government to create a lasting legacy of a recycling system that’s fit for future generations, we have a scheme that fails on too many counts – and not least households, who will end up paying upwards of £1 per week in their shopping bills for EPR, for little tangible benefit.
“The food and drink sector stands ready to help government do this properly. So far, they have not wanted to listen to us, even when doing so would help drive down inflation and ease the pressure on households.”