Single management system for PRN compliance is favourite model in Resources & Waste Strategy responses

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A single not-for-profit management organisation has been revealed as the preferred model for respondents in the Government’s and devolved Governments’ responses to the Resources & Waste Strategy consultation.

In the Consultation on reforming the Packaging Producer Responsibility System document, this model (model 2) was favoured by 43% of respondents, compared to 27% that preferred retaining a slightly amended existing model (model 1). Of the other two options, only 6% were interested in model 3 that separated household and commercial and industrial packaging, and 19% wanted a deposit-based government managed system.

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Although it wasn’t mentioned in the consultation, 5% of respondents referred to hybrid models that had been proposed during the consultation period by Ecosurety and Suez.

Interestingly, the favoured model 2 was preferred by 256 respondents that were dominated by local government and third sector organisations. While model 1 was wanted by 160 respondents that were made up mostly of businesses, representative organisations and trade associations, distributors, reprocessors and waste management companies.

As a result of this consultation, the Government and devolved Governments will now further consider models 1 and 2. But will also look at the other models submitted by Ecosurety and Suez and the views of stakeholders of a hybrid approach.

The Government has revealed that following this, it intends to introduce an extended producer responsibility system by 2023, meaning that producers will have to pay the full next cost of recovering materials for recycling. It will be the chosen model from above that will be the mechanism to transfer the funds from the producer to those bearing the costs of recycling.

On exports of material for recycling, 96% of respondents believed that the Government should seek to ensure that export of packaging waste is undertaken in a transparent and environmentally responsible manner.

Although some respondents called for exports to cease, others recognised the importance of the flow of resources in a global economy.

Some also referenced the importance of improving the quality of recyclable materials as this would help both local recycling infrastructure and maintaining access to global recycling markets.

A number of those that responded also requested improved monitoring and inspection of waste, plus increased resources for the environment agencies to police illegal exports.

In the Consistency in recycling collections in England document, respondents overwhelmingly suggested that core materials should be collected. These would include:

  • glass bottles and containers – including drinks bottles, condiment bottles, jars
  • paper and card – including newspaper, cardboard packaging, writing paper
  • plastic bottles – including clear drinks containers, HDPE (milk containers), detergent, shampoo and cleaning products
  • plastic pots tubs and trays
  • steel and aluminium tins and cans

As a result, the Government will look to amend legislation so that all English councils will need to collect these by 2023. This will also be looked at with reference to a proposed deposit return scheme (see below).

Council food waste collections will also be legislated on with the preference from Defra for this to be weekly.

On separate collections of dry recycling, this was supported by 70% of respondents. Defra will continue to support the separate collection of these materials, with at least glass and fibre separated. It will also work on providing guidance on separate collections to achieve high quality recycling.

Standardised bin colours will be looked at in more detail after concerns were expressed due to cost of implementation, even if there was wide support in principle (not among local authorities though). Alternatives including bin numbering and lettering systems could be a way to reduce costs.

In the document Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland the Government said that it is minded to introduce a DRS in England and Wales, and probably Northern Ireland by 2023. Ideally, a scheme will be brought in that ensures regulatory consistency across the UK so that the proposed Scottish DRS matches the rest of the country.

Further stakeholder engagement will be held on the size of containers included in DRS, with up to 3 litres being considered. A second consultation will follow in 2020 on the materials to be included in DRS.

In the consultation on a Plastic Packaging Tax on products having a minimum 30% recycled content, HM Treasury said that it will look at the most appropriate definition of plastic packaging. This is because many respondents felt that bio-based, biodegradable, and compostable plastics should be kept under review by the Government.

The Government plans to introduce the plastic packaging tax in 2022, but acknowledges the need to clearly define what is plastic packaging. It will also look into products where including recycled content might prove challenging.

As a result, the Treasury did not confirm that the tax would be placed on having a minimum 30% recycled content, and will now set out the next steps in Budget 2019 followed by a new consultation on the detail of the tax in 2020.

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