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UK manufacturers to pay recycling costs under new waste blueprint

Businesses and manufacturers will pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste under a new Resources and Waste Strategy set out by the environment secretary Michael Gove today.

The new strategy aims to extend producer responsibility for packaging and invoke the ‘polluter pays’ principle, by making producers pay the full costs of disposal for packaging they place on the market.

As part of the blueprint producers will also be expected to take more responsibility for items that can be harder or costly to recycle including cars, electrical goods, and batteries. This can later be extended to textiles, fishing gear, vehicle tires and bulky waste such as mattresses, furniture and carpets.

Photo by Resource & Waste Strategy Households will also see the existing recycling system simplified, with new plans for a consistent approach to recycling across England. 

“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,” said Gove as he launched the strategy at the London recycling centre of waste management company Veolia.

The government will also seek consultation to introduce a set of recyclable material for collection.

Also, the strategy envisages that the new collection system will be funded by industry through extended producer responsibility (EPR).

Subject to consultation, EPR will see industry pay higher fees if their products are harder to reuse, repair or recycle and will encourage sustainable design. The government expects EPR for packaging to raise between £500m and £1bn a year for recycling and disposal. 

The move builds on the government’s autumn budget in October, which announced a tax on plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content from April 2022. The move is subject to consultation.

The strategy will also introduce a deposit return scheme, subject to consultation, to increase the recycling of single-use drinks containers including bottles, cans, and disposable cups filled at the point of sale.

The government has said that the blueprint is part of its 25-year-plan to eliminate avoidable plastic waste and doublie resource productivity, and eliminate avoidable waste of all kinds by 2050.

Publication date: 18/12/2018

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Last update: 2019-05-09