Andrew Stunell, Liberal Democrat MP for Hazel Grove, has put forward – for the second time – a bill that would push retailers and producers to take responsibility for waste.

Along the same lines as the imminent WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive, Stunell’s proposed plan would include the elimination of certain packaging before they get to the consumer, in-store bins for discarded plastic, and take-back schemes allowing consumers to return cardboard and paper wrapping to retailers.

Mr Stunell told edie: “Every household is spending £470 on packaging that [they] can’t throw away…in Switzerland and Germany where there are take-back schemes, waste is reduced.”

The British Retail Consotium call the Bill unworkable saying that the proposal to force retailers to collect and dispose of used packaging, brought back to stores by customers, is impractical and unsafe.

BRC Director General Kevin Hawkins said: “Retailers are doing a great deal to reduce waste and boost recycling. They are cutting back packaging, reducing the environmental impact of plastic bags and, where practical, offering recycling facilities. But compelling stores to act as waste dumps is unworkable.

“In-store waste collection would create a potential health hazard and fire risk and put huge demands on staff time. Local authorities already have systems and facilities in place. Retailers contribute £4.5 billion a year towards them. They are best placed to deal with waste.”

Stunell disagrees and believes that a lot of work can be done to reduce waste. He says: “Most packaging – say in the case of fruit – is giving the product a longer shelf-life and is good for presentation,” he said to edie.

“When wrapping is used, it should have a purpose. We need to ask whether it is necessary…and create moral pressure on taking the environment more seriously.”

Dana Gornitzki

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