Last year DEFRA set out in its Resource and Waste Strategy clear ambitions to achieve recycling rates, increased resource efficiency and a more circular economy. The planned consultations within the strategy are now underway and we are starting to get a flavour for the changes that could be coming down the line.
Unfortunately, we are unlikely to see many enforced changes being made before 2022, but this doesn’t stop businesses from taking a proactive stance and acting now to get all their ducks in a row before legislation enforces change.
The four recently completed consultations are:
- Reforming packaging producer responsibility
- Plastics recycled content tax
- Deposit return scheme across England, Northern Ireland and Wales
- Accelerating consistency in recycling for both households and businesses in England.
The key takeaway tips we have pulled from the responses are:
The importance of segregation
The government is looking, initially at local authority level, to introduce mandatory weekly food waste collections. Our advice for businesses is that if you are still putting food into general waste, split it out now, as it is easy and will reduce costs and improve your recycling rates. Food waste, if sent to a PAS110 facility, processes food to produce fertiliser and is therefore classified as recycling as an output is generated.
Dry recycling will also require some focus to create a more consistent specification across the country. Recycling and resource efficiency can again be easily improved when you introduce a robust segregation strategy – and as an added benefit costs will come down. At Reconomy we are helping our customers to do this and once you start to unlock the potential that comes from segregation you start to see that targets, such as zero waste to landfill and zero waste, are not out of reach and are a great goal to work towards. For more details Click here.
Sustainable plastic packaging incentives
In 2022, the government is aiming to introduce a new tax on plastic packaging that contains less than 30% of recycled content. The response has been that recycled plastic is often more expensive than using new, despite its lower environmental impacts. The government wants to introduce incentives for sustainable plastic packaging. From our perspective, when talking to clients, we are trying to encourage alternatives to plastic entirely. Firstly, questioning whether the packaging is necessary in the first place or whether reusable alternatives can be used. If not, there are non-plastic based materials that are worth considering such as glass, card or compostables. For more details Click here.
Packaging producer reform
There is strong support to reform the current packaging producer responsibility scheme which is set to take place in 2023. Proposals still need to be developed to refine the principles and further consideration is needed on opportunities for encouraging reusable and refillable packaging. For more details Click here.
A deposit return scheme has the potential to complement the above measures in capturing commonly littered and unrecycled materials. There are consistent approaches to this being taken across Europe, so the introduction of this is likely, we are just not clear yet on what form it will take. Although, due to an appetite from businesses to implement these changes, the government will be sharing updates in the lead up to 2023. For more details Click here.
If you are interested in reading more on these topics, please check out our insight guides here.
Our final point comes back to prevention. To introduce sustainable business practices waste needs to be prevented and stopped at source. Once waste is in the system it becomes expensive to process and puts a strain on our limited natural resources.
So, finding ways to cut it out entirely will support that shift towards a circular economy and ultimately for your business to make significant change to becoming sustainable.