Defra is seeking feedback from respondents on what they think regulatory and industrial priorities should be for managing resources and waste across seven key streams.
Defra has published a consultation surrounding their revised Waste Prevention Programme (WPP) in England, asking respondents what they think regulatory and industrial priorities should be for managing resources and waste for textiles; construction; furniture; e-goods; road vehicles; packaging; single-use items and plastics; and food. The closing date to submit feedback is 10 June 2021.
The original WPP was published in 2013 (a legal obligation under the EU’s Waste Framework Directive), but as this is the first update since the UK’s exit from the EU, Defra will no longer have to notify the European Commission of changes to it. Defra states that effective strategies under the WPP will contribute toward the wider aims of England’s Resources and Waste Strategy. Namely, to “maximise the value of resource use and minimise waste and its impact on the environment”.
Embracing the waste hierarchy
The accompanying literature surrounding the consultation emphasises the regulatory need to embrace the waste hierarchy – in other words ensure waste prevention and re-use activities are prioritised across the sectors.
To achieve this aim, future policy-making will focus on:
Products and design: Including eco-design and consumer information requirements, and Extended Producer Responsibility schemes.
Systems: Including producer responsibility and related collection and take back services, encouraging reuse, repair, leasing businesses and supporting facilities, and encouraging greater transparency by local authorities and businesses.
Information and data: including developing materials databases, product passports and encouraging voluntary corporate reporting.
A focus on new waste stream EPR
Outlined below are also some of the key strategies outlined in the consultation that are proposed for construction, textiles and furniture. It is estimated the construction industry produces 59.6M tonnes of waste in England annually, that 1.1M tonnes of furniture waste is produced, and that the UK as a whole generates 1.8M tonnes of textile waste.
The consultation specifically asks for feedback on the following:
- Establish a roadmap to “achieving zero avoidable waste in the sector by 2050”, including best practice for managing and reducing construction waste.
- Consult on extended producer responsibility (EPR) for “certain materials in the construction and demolition sector”, including the potential for ecodesign principles and labelling standards.
- Build on industry action via the new voluntary agreement Textiles 2030. This strengthens objectives under the 2020 Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, and galvanises “cross-sector action, which is focussed on clothing durability, recyclability, reuse business models and closed-loop recycling”.
- Develop an EPR regime textiles, which will be consulted on by the end of 2022.
- Push industry to establish standards on efficient product design and material use, and “where they do not do so” use powers under the Environment Bill to set minimum standards and introduce labelling requirements.
- Encourage best practice in take-back offerings and product design via “trade associations, voluntary agreements, and industry standards”.
- Consider the benefits of employing powers gained under the Environment Bill to set minimum standards “durability, reparability, recyclability, and recycled content of furniture, as well as requirements for improved labelling and consumer information in order to level the playing field”.
- As promised in the 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy, consult on EPR for bulky waste by the end of 2025, as a means to encourage progress in sustainable furniture and furnishing design.
Comprehensive in scope
Head of policy and innovation, Robbie Staniforth, says "We welcome this consultation from Defra, which is comprehensive in scope. It is encouraging to see textiles and fishing gear outlined as priorities for further consultation during 2022."
"However, we hope to see widespread adoption of extended producer responsibility systems before their target of 2025. All of the industries cited in Defra's consultation require extended producer responsibility so that the full net cost of their products can be accounted for in a future circular economy."
Consultations are an important tool for shaping regulatory outcomes, and ensuring the regulating bodies understand views from a range of stakeholders.
On the 21 April 2021 we are running a free webinar to run through the detail of the revised Waste Prevention Programme for England consultation, including how you could be impacted and why you should respond, with an opportunity to ask questions at the end.
Book your free place now by clicking here.
If you would like any advice or have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact our team.
As Policy advisor Louisa provides key support to our team, including preparing reports on environmental policy issues and maintaining awareness of new developments. As such she will often be found coordinating responses to policy consultations, advocating policy positions and providing internal guidance to current legislation.