Today the Government has released its eagerly anticipated strategy for managing waste in England. To provide insight on what this could mean for our clients, Daniel Howells from our waste team, takes us through the key announcements.

Growing pressure on government to tackle plastic waste

This Government has been under increasing pressure in the face of greater public awareness around plastic wastage and climate change to produce a plan to tackle some of these major waste related obstacles. The significant set of announcements included in this strategy, focus on making products more sustainable and reducing waste. The strategy document rightly highlights that 80% of the damage to the environment from waste can be avoided if more thoughtful decisions are made at the production stage. Therefore the policy focuses significantly on incentivising businesses to prevent their ‘products’ becoming waste rather than previous strategies that focused on increasing recycling rates which was inherently reliant on consumers and local authorities.

Incentives for producers

This means that there will be impacts on businesses that place products onto the market for sale. The Government outlines in this strategy that it will seek to extend producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging, essentially ensuring that producers – (not consumers), pay the full costs of disposal for packaging they place on the market. This incentivises producers to design their products to make it easier for them to be reused, dismantled and/or recycled at end of life. It is expected that Government will set out the minimum requirements for businesses to follow.

The EPR Principle

The Government plans to introduce the EPR principle to prevent five other waste streams. This would include:

• Textiles (Including at least all clothing, as well as other household and commercial textiles such as bed linens);

• Bulky waste (Including mattresses, furniture and carpets);

• Certain materials in the construction and demolition sector

• Vehicle tyres – Including tyres from cars, motorcycles, commercial and goods vehicles, and heavy machinery;

• Fishing gear – Further details are expected.

New Taxes on Businesses

Introducing new taxes on businesses that do not use certain levels of recycled content is also announced. In particular, plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled plastic is likely to be subject to some form of taxation.

There will also be mandatory labelling on packaging advising consumers whether an item can be recycled or not and also details of the sustainability of their purchase. The hope is that consumers would then be influenced to purchase based on the strength of those labels. The Government proposes that this scheme once again will by producers of the waste.

England will also follow other parts of the UK, where certain businesses that produce higher levels of food waste, will be forced to have separate collections of food waste.

Other selected announcements that may be of interest:

• The potential roll-out of bottle return schemes

• Encouraging local authorities to present a uniformed approach to waste collections;

• Ensuring food waste is collected from all residential properties weekly by all Local Authorities,

• Introducing electronic waste transfer notes to reduce waste crime

Conclusions

This is an ambitious strategy and many of these announcements will be approved and disapproved in equal measure by environmentalists and business lobby groups. This is a strategy document, there will be consultations in the new year from which policies will emerge. What is clear, is that this area of policy is a fast-moving area that we in the waste team will keep ahead of the game of, being able to advise our clients of the latest requirements and impending regulations.

If you think you may need assistance in reviewing your waste policy or wish to look at how your business can start preparing now to get ahead of these requirements, please contact Daniel Howells.

About the Author: Daniel Howells, is a Chartered Waste Manager and Waste Management Consultant. He is a former Key Account Manager at one of the largest waste management companies in the UK. Specialising in the development of strategic plans and project management of key long-term projects providing cost saving initiatives. Daniel’s typical clients have included national high street Retailers, Supermarket chains, the NHS and the Construction sector.

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