This morning Defra have released four separate packaging consultations, as promised in the Resources and Waste Strategy last year.
The consultations have a twelve-week timeframe and allow industry to give detailed feedback to government on the proposals that have potential to radically shape the future of packaging producer responsibility, the use of plastic packaging and recycling systems across the UK. The four consultations are outlined below:
Reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system
The 20-year-old PRN system has been under great scrutiny in recent times and this consultation is seeking views on measures that aim to address the widely recognised problems inherent in the current system, including a lack of transparency, limited financial support for Local Authorities who handle the majority of consumer packaging waste and a lack of a level playing field for domestic reprocessing.
Measures to reduce the amount of unnecessary and difficult to recycle packaging, whilst increasing the amount of packaging that can and is recycled, are included in the consultation.
Proposals to place the full net cost of managing packaging waste on the businesses that use the packaging and are best placed to influence its design are also included, consistent with the producer pays principal.
Consistency in household and business recycling collections in England
This consultation seeks to address the stagnation in household recycling rates and the fact that some local authorities in England do not collect the full range of recyclable materials or food waste separately.
A pertinent issue is also the fact that there are few drivers to encourage local authorities to expand recycling services or for businesses to invest in them.
The need to reduce levels of contamination and improve the quality of collected recycling is also key, with countries like China requiring much higher standards of material.
Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
The merits of a DRS are considered by this consultation. The aim of such a system is to ensure that it is easy to return drinks containers to increase recycling rates and reduce littering. Following this consultation, a formal period of consultation on specific regulatory measures will also take place in 2020.
Jointly undertaken by the UK and Welsh Governments and DAERA, this consultation will ensure that any DRS is part of a coherent UK-wide system, with the UK Government working closely with Devolved Administrations.
Resource and waste and plastic packaging tax consultations
This HM Treasury consultation focusses on a new tax proposed in the 2018 budget, to be levied on the production and import of plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content. This aims to redress that fact that using recycled plastic is often more expensive than using virgin material in the production of packaging. By shifting the economic incentives of using more sustainable plastic packaging, Government is seeking to encourage greater use of recycled material and to reduce plastic waste.
The consultation considers how the tax could work, including what packaging should fall into scope, which businesses will be liable and how to assess recycled content.
Best opportunity to improve packaging outcomes for a generation
Robbie Staniforth, head of policy at Ecosurety commented “Hats off to Defra for listening to industry’s calls. Not only have they released all of the consultations at the same time, they have also ensured we have a full 12 weeks to analyse, debate and respond. We anticipate there will be a wide variety of views on the best course of action from across the sectors and are looking forward to discussions in the coming weeks and months.”
How to ensure you are informed
Robbie will be running a number of essential webinars to keep our members informed about the content of the consultations, how it could affect their business and what the Ecosurety responses will be.
Please book these free webinars by clicking below:
1 March 2019 - Overview of the Extended Producer Responsibility consultation webinar
7 March 2019 - Overview of the Deposit Return Scheme consultation webinar
19 March 2019 - Ecosurety response to the Defra packaging consultations webinar
Ecosurety will also be running events and undertaking surveys to capture the views of our members and stakeholders, before submitting our response to the consultations in May.
If you would like to find out more about how you can be involved, please contact our team.
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Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.