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Packaging producers to pick up recycling tab in new waste strategy

The moves are part of a strategy to eliminate avoidable plastic waste and help protect the environment

BUSINESSES and manufacturers south of the border will have to pay the full cost of recycling or disposing their packaging waste, under a new strategy launched by the UK Government’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

The move to “overhaul” England’s waste system will put greater responsibility on those who produce waste. The move is part of a new Resources and Waste Strategy that aims to eliminate avoidable plastic waste and help protect the environment.

Michael Gove said, “Our strategy sets out how we will go further and faster, to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Together we can move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society, to one that looks at waste as a valuable resource. 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. Through this plan we will cement our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, leaving our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”

The Government plans to introduce a consistent set of recyclable material for collection, subject to consultation. This will be funded by industry through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

Edinburgh-headquartered compostable packaging specialist Vegware welcomed the new strategy. A spokesperson said, “It’s a much-needed and ambitious set of policy goals, and we are pleased to see the Government recognise the role compostable materials can play in improving recycling and resource use. By 2025, all plastic packaging placed on the market should be recyclable, reusable or compostable.

“It’s great the Government plans to mandate food waste collections for householders and many businesses – this should bring England up to speed with the rest of the UK. Extended Producer Responsibility, if the details are delivered correctly, can bring huge sustainability improvements to packaging and recycling.”

The Recycling Association’s chief executive Simon Ellin has tipped the Resources and Waste Strategy to “transform” the recycling sector. He said, “Over two years ago we launched our Quality First campaign to improve the quality of materials for recycling, and the Resources and Waste Strategy addresses many of our concerns that led to this. There is a commitment to improve the quality of materials that are sent for export, and this has to be welcomed as long as it isn’t so stringent as to become a barrier. But the signs are that we will look to send high quality material to end destinations and we support that principle.

“Full cost recovery for producers is included in the Strategy and will be consulted on, but we are pleased to see that the retailers and manufacturers will need to pay for the recycling of the materials they put on the market. We also welcome the idea of a modulated fee, so that those who use packaging that is very difficult or impossible to recycle will have to pay most. This should provide an incentive to them to make their packaging more recyclable.

“Although we welcome the previously announced tax on plastic packaging that does not use a minimum 30% recycled content, the Resources and Waste Strategy does not mention how investment will be generated for new UK recycling capacity to provide that recycled content. We hope the consultation on this will address this omission. It also needs to look at how improvements can be made to the planning system to make it easier to set up new recycling capacity in the UK.”

Prismm Environmental has warned packaging companies, manufacturers and retailers that their compliance costs will rise. Managing director Mike Jackson said, “The Resources and Waste Strategy has much within it to be supportive of. However, the Strategy sets out that producers including packaging manufacturers, will need to pay the full cost of recycling their products. It also includes a modulated fee, so that those that have the most complex packaging that is hardest, or even impossible to recycle, will have the most to pay.

“Under our Packaging 2 Recycling scheme, we promote the use of carton board as a perfect material as it is easy to recycle. We can advise companies under the scheme, which is supported by the British Printing Industry Federation, of the most effective way to ensure their packaging is recyclable. With costs set to increase from 2023, now is the perfect time to start thinking about how to avoid the huge hike in fees that packaging manufacturers may face.”

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