Technological watch

UK launches consultation into waste management

The UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a consultation on household waste measures included in the Resources and Waste Strategy on 18 Feb.

The 12-week consultation will cover such aspects as implementation of a ‘full-cost recovery’ system, where packaging producers will be required to pay 100% of related collection costs.

Other elements include implementation of a recycled content threshold tax, due to be introduced in April 2022, and a strategy on waste collection, including types of sorted waste collection for recycling and frequency of collection.

The fourth element of the consultation will cover a new national plastic bottle return scheme. This will look at whether all bottle sizes will be subject to a deposit charge, or just smaller, single-serve bottles.

The so-called ‘on the go’ single-serve bottles are said to make up a greater percentage of plastic litter. Opponents of putting a deposit on larger bottles say that these are usually bought for home consumption, which would usually see those bottles returned through existing domestic recycling schemes.

In a statement, Defra noted that the consultations aimed ‘to overhaul the waste system, cut plastic pollution, and move towards a more circular economy’.

A release issued by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) urged the UK government to ‘learn from past mistakes on deposits for bottles and cans when consulting retailers and the packaging industry’.

The advice recalls the Beverage Container Bill of 1981, which would have legislated that all cider, beer and soft drink bottles to carry a deposit. The UK government rejected the bill after being assured the related industries would voluntarily put in place a suitable solution.

The CPRE says that ‘the polluted state of our countryside, streets and oceans proves that any effort they have made has been resoundingly unsuccessful’.

As such, the CPRE is recommending that the government back a scheme covering a legislated deposit scheme that includes all drinks containers, including cans.

Commenting on the consultation, Samantha Harding, litter programme director at the CPRE, said: “By introducing a deposit system that accepts and collects every single can and bottle, Michael Gove [environment secretary] has a golden opportunity to end growing scepticism around current recycling methods by boosting recycling rates… to near perfection.”

Publication date: 19/02/2019

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Last update: 2019-05-09