Government Announces Plans to Improve Recycling and Waste System
The Government has published four consultations to gather feedback on plans to overhaul the nation’s waste system, cut plastic pollution, and move towards a more circular economy. The four consultations relate to the following areas:
Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for drinks containers
This consultation seeks views on plans to introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks containers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The cost of the deposit would be added to the price of the drinks included in the scheme when they are purchased. This deposit would be redeemed when consumers return their empty drinks containers to a designated return point. In scope would be cans, glass bottles and plastic bottles.
The consultation is particularly seeking views on two potential ‘models’ for the system: an ‘all-in’ model, which would not place any restrictions on the size of drinks containers in-scope of a DRS; and an ‘on-the-go’ model, which would target drinks beverages most often sold for consumption outside of the home (while ‘on-the–go’). This would restrict the drinks containers in-scope to those less than 750ml in size and sold in single format containers.
Plastic packaging tax
This consultation follows up the announcement made at Budget 2018 that government would introduce a new tax on the production and import of plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content from 2022, subject to consultation. As well as exploring the principles of the tax, the consultation explores which packaging should be in scope of the tax, how to assess recycled content, and which businesses will be liable for the tax.
Making recycling collections consistent in England
This consultation seeks views on plans to make local authorities collect the same kind of materials for household recycling to reduce confusion about what can be recycled. It also explores plans to require businesses to separate their recyclable waste from residual waste for collection, with the specific aim to increase recycling collected from businesses whilst making waste disposal more cost effective.
Changing the UK producer responsibility system for packaging waste
This consultation focuses on proposals to ensure businesses and manufacturers pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste. The consultation explores making recycling labels mandatory on packaging; setting new packaging waste recycling targets for 2025 and 2030; and improving monitoring and enforcement of the regulations. It also explores how government can use incentives to encourage the use of recyclable packaging.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:
“We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste. That’s why we are leading the way to move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society and drive up domestic recycling.
“We are committed to cementing our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, so we can be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”
The changes will make up a key part of the Government’s upcoming Environment Bill, to be introduced early in the second session of Parliament.
The deadline for the plastic packaging tax consultation is 12 May 2019. The deadline for the remaining three consultations is 13 May 2019.
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