Industry reacts to Defra’s Resource and Waste Strategy Factory Suppliers Manufacturers Quotes

Industry reacts to Defra’s Resource and Waste Strategy

Industry reacts to Defra’s Resource and Waste Strategy

Industry reacts to Defra’s Resource and Waste Strategy

The government is to force businesses and manufacturers to pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste.

Industry reacts to Defra’s Resource and Waste Strategy

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) mapped out its thinking as part of its new Resource and Waste Strategy. The producers of packaging will now be required to pay the full cost of collecting and recycling. There will also be charges for difficult to recycle packaging.

The costs to retailers and producers could rise to between £500m and £1bn annually. The government has also announced that it will simplify the “existing complicated recycling system” with a plan for a consistent approach across England.

While many of the announcements were expected, there was one surprise as Defra appeared to include “disposable cups” to be collected as part of a deposit return scheme. The proposed scheme is designed to also increase the recycling of single-use containers such as bottles and cans.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “We will cut our reliance on single-use plastics, end confusion over household recycling, tackle the problem of packaging by making polluters pay, and end the economic, environmental and moral scandal that is food waste.”

The Packaging Federation’s chief executive Dick Searle said that the “devil will be in the detail” and that much of the hard work will begin once the consultation begins in 2019. He also warned that business “didn’t have a magical pot of money” to pay for producer responsibility reform. Searle said that there were signs that the government was listening to industry concerns and this was reflected through the proposed reform of the PRN system. However, he warned that there is still much work to be done and that prices may go up.

“Whatever industry does, it will be reflected through consumer prices,” he added. “Also, where is the consumer’s role in all of this? None of these proposals will work unless consumers do their bit. If we want to live the way we do then everyone has to play their part.”

Martin Kersh, executive director at the Foodservice Packaging Association, said that while including cups in a deposit return system was better than a levy, there was a large caveat.

“We’re not aware of reverse vending machinery that can handle cups therefore customers’ deposits will need to be returned to the till where fresh food is being handled,” he said. “This has huge hygiene implications and dealing with this alone will add costs to coffee and sandwich shops, cafes and takeaways, many of which are struggling on the high street. In addition there are costs associated with administering a deposit system which will have a disproportionate financial impact particularly on the very hard pressed independent sector.

“If cups were to be included in the Deposit Return System then we presume they will be outside the scope of the proposed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) proposals since the deposit system together with the ability to recycle 100% of cups in the UK, meets the requirements of EPR.

“It is important that finds raised through EPR are used to support improvements in collection, sortation and recycling. Merely moving the net cost to business isn’t enough if we are simply going to be standing still.”

The Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group (PCRRG) welcomed the strategy and was pleased that the consultation was being developed on a “level playing field and that no products have been singled out.

The PCRRG added: “We note the consultation on deposit return schemes (DRS) but consider this a very complex issue and likely to be extremely challenging.  A DRS scheme (for out of home) would place an administrative burden on business, when more than 4 500 collection points already exist in the UK for the collection of used paper cups are more are planned and in progress.”

Paul Vanston, chief executive of the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), said that it was vital that money raised from reforms went to where it is most needed.

“With an anticipated injection of up to £1bn from producers, it is vital this money is seen as additional, and turbo boosts recycling rates,” he said. “That means the resources industry can’t afford for either the Treasury or councils’ finance departments to see producer funding as an opportunity to reduce existing council recycling and waste budgets.  The net effect of such detrimental moves would be to stifle the very performance uplifts in recycling and resource efficiency Defra’s Strategy seeks to achieve.”

He added: “Shunting funds from producers to councils and others is not enough in itself to deliver the greenest UK economy we desire.  Citizen involvement and buy-in is critical, and securing that is better done when public, private and civil society objectives and activities are unified by a galvanising strategy.”

In a statement, the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association welcomed the review and said: “MPMA contributed to the initial DEFRA call for evidence relating to DRS and welcomes its commitment to further consultation during ongoing development and implementation phases.  We also share fellow trade organisations’ optimism for a reformed EPR that will recognise the high value of materials such as aluminium.

“The metal packaging sector has a long, unparalleled and proven track record of investment in recycling which has helped deliver recycling rate of 72% for drink cans, while three quarters of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today.”

David Wilson, Vanden UK managing director,  said: “With the PRN/PERN price for plastic currently hovering around £100 per tonne, it could be said that the PRN/PERN market is doing its job. Producers are effectively already making a significant contribution to the net costs of collection and recycling at that level.
“While the market mechanism works, it needs to be better policed as there is a lot of trust involved in the system at present, and this leaves room for unscrupulous operators to exploit the system.”

He added: “Clearly, we welcome the plans to increase the amount of recycled content in packaging to a minimum of 30% by 2022. However, we believe that we need to define what is exactly recycled content first. For example, will recycled content be defined purely from the amount of post-consumer waste it contains, or will post-production scrap that has been reintegrated into the manufacturing process be considered recycled content? We have asked this question of government agencies and nobody seems to know the answer at present.”

Michael Topham, chief executive officer at Biffa also welcomed the government’s approach and said that the review “review represents an opportunity to transform our sector with up to £8bn of private investment and 50,000 jobs”.

We have been highlighting the need for increased producer responsibility to tackle waste at source, particularly plastics and phasing out hard to recycle materials, so it’s good to see this reflected in the strategy. Measures like an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme should encourage and incentivise waste producers to rethink packaging design for recyclability.”

Samantha Harding, litter programme director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said that the producer responsibility overhaul was “a step in the right direction” but was disappointed that a deposit return scheme will take some time to implement.

“The roll-out of such a system may not happen for another five years,” said Harding. “With the Scottish government expected to introduce its deposit system by 2020, and the packaging producers – who would pay for the system – wanting it to be UK-wide, why does our government think it would take a further three years to get in line?

“The best way to tackle the devastation caused to our natural world by waste, is by reducing the amount of waste we produce. The government must work with manufactures towards a circular economy for waste, put a halt to built-in obsolescence and ensure that the products they produce are built to last. Waste prevention must be prioritised, with landfill and incineration used solely as a last resort.”

The managing director for Tomra Collection Solutions UK and Ireland Truls Haug said: “It is very encouraging that the government has announced a consultation on deposit return schemes for England, as part of its wider strategy to tackle waste and manage resources.

“We believe that deposit return schemes have an integral part to play in the resource revolution. Our global experience has seen DRS dramatically increase recycling rates for drinks containers to more than 90 per cent in the vast majority of markets, showing the potential for change in England when the schemes are rolled out.”

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