The Resources and Waste Strategy released by Defra in December 2018 was followed by a number of key consultations that closed in May 2019, the results of which have now been released.
The strategy responses were published today alongside the Environment Bill summer policy statement, which gives some clarity to the government’s environment policy. The policy statement makes clear there is a commitment to follow ‘A new direction for resources and waste management’, as previously outlined in the Resources and Waste Strategy in December last year.
The Environment Bill will help ensure that ambitions to improve the environment are at the heart of government with commitments on legislation for air, biodiversity, water, environmental governance and waste and resources efficiency.
Michael Gove commented that “The measures in our Environment Bill will position the UK as a world leader, ensuring that after EU Exit environmental ambition and accountability are placed more clearly than ever before at the heart of government. As we have set out today, our plans will improve air quality so that our children live longer, restore habitats and increase biodiversity, strive towards a more circular economy and ensure we can manage our precious water resources in a changing climate.”
The consultation responses released today and summarised below offer valuable insight into the next steps the UK is set to take on the new path to a reduced environmental impact.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) consultation response
This consultation sought 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.
Defra has confirmed that it will implement a new producer responsibility system by 2023 that will ensure producers pay the full net costs associated with dealing with the packaging they place on the market.
A key element of the consultation focussed on four proposed options for a new EPR governance model. Ecosurety published an alternative Centralised Competition Model during the consultation that, compared to the four existing options, offered an improvement on funding issues whilst tackling competitive unfairness and a lack of transparency. The Ecosurety model served the system principles outlined by Defra and also delivered the ambitious outcomes the government and country desire. Defra noted that many responses referenced the Ecosurety model in preference to the four in the consultation.
A second consultation will now follow, focusing on the detail of the proposed changes.
Recycling consistency consultation response
This consultation sought 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. By introducing a consistent and simplified approach across the UK, it is hoped that recycling rates will improve.
The government has confirmed that following strong support, it will seek to amend legislation requiring all Local Authorities in England to collect the following materials as a minimum:
- Plastic bottles (clear drinks containers, HDPE milk containers, shampoo and cleaning product bottles)
- Plastic post tubs and trays
- Glass bottles and containers
- Paper and card
- Steel and aluminium
They have also noted that they will need to consider how this affects the proposals for a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).
Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) consultation response
The aim of a DRS system is to ensure that it provides an easy and incentivised method for consumers to return drinks containers, to increase recycling rates and reduce littering.
Defra have revealed there was strong support expressed for a DRS in the consultation responses. A formal period of consultation on specific regulatory measures will now take place in 2020 on the proposed scope and exact DRS model. The final scheme will be implemented from 2023.
Plastics packaging tax consultation response
The HM Treasury consultation focussed 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.
The government have confirmed that they will set out next steps in the 2019 Budget, with HMRC publishing a technical consultation on the detail at a later date. Draft legislation is expected to be published for consultation in 2020.
Robbie Staniforth, head of policy at Ecosurety commented “It is pleasing to see that many of our views have been echoed by other respondents. It seems that consensus is forming on many of the key issues."
"The summary shows that a more centralised governance model, which retains an element of competition, is a viable option for the next round of consultation in 2020. There are still a great many decisions to be made along the way but government are certainly moving in the right direction for EPR.”
We will publish any future news and insight into the consultations on our website. If you have any questions about how they may affect you, please do not hesitate to contact our team.
Free webinar overview - watch now
On the 1 August head of policy, Robbie Staniforth, presented a free webinar where he ran through the key highlights of the published summaries, the likely impacts on your business to be aware of and the known next steps. Click here to watch now.
Marketing projects specialist
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.