Government to set up taskforce to come up with new business waste collection proposals

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The Government has announced that it will set up an industry taskforce to develop new business waste collection proposals.

On Saturday, Defra published its responses to both the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Consultation and the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) Consultation.

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In the original EPR Consultation, Defra has proposed various options that would have led to centralised control of business waste collections. In some circumstances, this would have meant that the material would not have been owned by the collection company, but by either compliance schemes or the centralised Scheme Administrator.

Instead, Defra has said that this taskforce, made up of industry representatives, councils and producers, with the aim of coming up with options for payments for business packaging waste. It will also need to look at ways to improve data.

This will have a timescale up to 2026/7 and until then, the existing PRN/PERN system will remain in place. However, a separate consultation on the PRN/PERN system has suggested some improvements for this scheme.

For reprocessors and exporters, they will be required to register with a regulator and report data on the quality and quantity of packaging waste handled.

Reprocessors and exporters will also be required to report:

  • the tonnes of packaging waste received on site (by material type and grade)
  • the tonnes of non-recyclable or non-target packaging
  • the tonnes of packaging waste to be reprocessed or exported following any further cleaning and sorting processes
  • the tonnes of packaging materials reprocessed on site and/or sent to an onward destination site or facility. For example, an overseas destination site for exporters, or another reprocessing site or disposal facility in the UK.

Reprocessors and exporters will be required to submit a sampling and inspection plan to a regulator for approval.

Exporters will also need to obtain evidence that shipments were received at the final destination site and must obtain evidence of recycling by the overseas reprocessor. Only then can a PERN be issued, under the new proposals.

Additionally, exporters will only be able to send material to overseas facilities that have been inspected by third party operators.

Packaging waste will not need to achieve end-of-waste status ahead of export, but the Government will work with regulators to consider what requirements may need to be introduced in future to ensure exported waste is of a similar standard to waste that is reprocessed in the UK.

Separately, the Government also intends to end the export of plastic waste to non-OECD countries, and is consulting on amendments to the waste shipment legislation on this.

In terms of EPR overall, it will now be phased in from 2024 rather than all happening in 2023 as previously proposed.

Other Government decisions include:

  • Modulated fees for packaging will be introduced in 2025 (those that produce more easily recycled packaging will pay lower fees, with the opposite for those that produce hard-to-recycled packaging)
  • The PRN/PERN system will continue in conjunction with EPR to show recycling obligations have been met
  • All compostable and biodegradable material will contain the ‘Do Not Recycle’ label until the evidence exists that it can be safely collected and composted separately
  • A scheme administrator will be appointed to oversee EPR in 2023 for operation in 2024. It will most likely be a public sector body.
  • EPR will be reviewed two years into its operation
  • Local authorities will receive payments from producers for collection of household packaging waste, and on the go packaging disposed of in street bins
  • There will be mandatory take back, collection and recycling of fibre-based composite cups (disposable tea and coffee cups)
  • Mandatory labelling of packaging for recyclability with a single label format
  • Annual packaging waste recycling targets to 2030
  • Enhanced waste sampling to enable improved data on packaging waste
  • Requirement for certain producers to report packaging placed on the market
  • Glass will not be included in DRS in England and Northern Ireland, but will be included in Wales.

Defra also announced that the 2022 packaging targets would be rolled over to 2023 for all packaging materials. It also set out new targets for the EPR regulations up to 2030.

The full consultation response document can be viewed at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1063589/epr-consultation-government-response.pdf

A new consultation on reform of the PRN/PERN system is available at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/packaging-extended-producer-responsibility/reforms-to-the-prn-and-pern-systems/supporting_documents/Reforms%20to%20the%20PRN%20and%20PERN%20System%20%20Consultation%20Document.pdf

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