Government launch consultation to overhaul the waste system 

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The UK Government has today launched consultations to overhaul the waste system, cut plastic pollution and move towards a circular economy.
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The UK Government has today launched consultations to overhaul the waste system, cut plastic pollution and move towards a circular economy. 

These plans have been launched by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.  

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The consultations build on commitments made in the Government’s Resource and Waste Strategy and will provide details on plans to make packaging producers pay the full price of dealing with their waste, introduce a consistent set of materials collected across England from households, and implement a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for cans, and bottles.  

It is hoped that these changes will make up a key part of the Government’s upcoming Environment Bill.  

A consultation has launched today on a consistent set of recyclable materials collected from all households and businesses, and consistent labelling on packaging so customers know what to recycle.  

This will include separate weekly food waste collections for every household in England and could also include free garden waste collection for households.  

The Government is requesting views on introducing a DRS for cans and bottles, subject to consultation, alongside setting out two models – ‘all-in’ or ‘on-the-go’. This could drive the recycling of an estimated three billion plastic bottles, which are currently incinerated, sent to landfill or littered.  

It has also launched a consultation on introducing a tax on plastic packaging that does not meet a minimum of at least 30% recycled content from 2022 and will address the issue of it often being cheaper to use new, non-recycled plastic material despite its environmental impact.  

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste. That’s why we are leading the way to move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society and drive up domestic recycling. Through our plans we will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling.  

“We are committed to cementing our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, so we can be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.” 

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said: “Plastic packaging makes up two-thirds of all the plastic waste that pollutes this country and wreaks havoc on our environment. It’s our responsibility to do something about it and that’s why we will introduce a new tax on the producers of plastic packaging that don’t use enough recycled material. 

“This action, coupled with the other measures we are bringing in, will help drive up recycling, cut the amount of new plastic being used and protect our environment for future generations.” 

Costs of managing packaging waste will be funded by industry through a packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system, which will see industry pay higher fees if their packaging is harder to reuse or recycle, and will aim to encourage sustainable design, subject to the consultation today. 

According to the Government, EPR for packaging will raise between £800 million and £1 billion a year for recycling and disposal.  

The Government will seek views on its plans for 12 weeks. 

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