Resources and Waste Strategy: Green business community reacts
In the newly-launched Resources and Waste Strategy, Defra has pledged to make producers pay for the full costs of recycling or disposing the packaging they produce. But how has this commitment, alongside the Strategy's other key measures, been met by members of the green community?
A huge overhaul of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system was proposed today (18 December) in the Government’s Resources & Waste Strategy, which also includes plans for separate food waste collections and a nationwide deposit return scheme.
To provide you with expert analysis of the Strategy, edie has rounded-up the leading voices of the industry to provide insight.
Resources and Waste Strategy: The green business community reacts
Nick Molho, executive director, Aldersgate Group:
“With 80% of a product’s environmental impact determined at the design stage, this Strategy is a welcome step forward in that it moves the focus of England’s resources and waste policy beyond just recycling and towards the early stages of a product’s lifecycle. We welcome in particular the intention to consult on new rules for extended producer responsibility schemes, the plan to broaden their scope to include a wider range of products as well as the intention to introduce product standards setting minimum resource efficiency criteria, which together could have a significant impact in improving the quality of products put on the market.”
Gudrun Cartwright, environment director at Business in the Community (BITC):
“We welcome the Resources and Waste Strategy and the ambitious direction it sets for the UK. By making the most of valuable resources, businesses can lead the way and help turn the tide on waste by 2030. We know that businesses want to come together, take action and get results faster with over  major brands signing our Waste to Wealth Commitment to help double the nation’s resource productivity and eliminate avoidable waste by 2030.”
Dr Lyndsey Dodds, Head of UK Marine Policy, WWF:
“It is great that the Government is making recycling easier — and that they are finally asking producers to pay the cost. But that alone won’t cure our plastic plague.
Eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the ocean every year and only 9% of all the plastic produced globally is recycled, so there is no way we can tackle this through recycling alone. We must reduce the amount produced and used. We need the Government to follow through on this Strategy with strong and urgent action to turn the tide on plastic – before it is too late.”
Jeremy Jacobs, technical director, Renewable Energy Association:
“We have been pressing Defra for a number of years to follow the example of the devolved nations to mandate food waste collections, in order that this valued resource is better utilised, rather than being landfilled. We need more work on waste prevention measures but, alongside these, it is vital that both household and commercial food waste is captured within this initiative, with local authorities being sufficiently incentivised or funded to make this happen at the earliest opportunity.
We are also keen to see that existing infrastructure is used effectively to treat garden waste and food waste, where it is comingled, rather than send food waste excessive distances to AD facilities, many such in-vessel composting facilities already exist and have a valuable role to play in the treatment of food waste.”
Jacob Hayler, executive director, ESA:
“It’s important to understand that policy decisions in this important area can make a real difference to the economy. We now have the opportunity to boost recycling and cut waste – creating over 50,000 jobs with £8 billion private sector investment in the process – but for this to happen the high-level ambition in the strategy will need to be turned into detailed actions that matter.”
Julian Kirby, waste campaigner, Friends of the Earth:
“At long last the Government appears to be getting serious about tackling England’s vast mountains of waste. Forcing firms to pay the full cost dealing with the packaging they create is great news, and will give companies a clear incentive to produce less waste in the first place.
“But while there are many welcome initiatives in this Strategy, there is still too much reliance on voluntary measures, and precious little commitment to targets to reduce waste and boost recycling.
This Strategy also gives little recognition to the vital importance of cutting the production of plastic in the first place. Recycling has a role to play – but at the end of the day it will only slow the rate of increase in plastic pollution.”
Mary Creagh MP, Chair, Environmental Audit Committee (EAC):
“The Government appears to be kicking the waste can down the road yet again. The plastic bottle deposit return scheme promised in 2018 won’t be ready until 2023. Textile waste piling up in landfill won’t be tackled until even later. With scientists warning we have just 12 years to tackle climate change, this strategy is too little, too slowly.”
David Palmer-Jones, chief executive, Suez recycling and recovery UK:
“Defra’s Strategy represents an ambitious step change in the nation’s journey towards a circular economy and provides positive signals for businesses, consumers and the environment.
At its core, this Strategy demands better coordination between all of those involved in the production and management of waste – from product-design to retail, consumption, collection and recycling or reuse – and will empower businesses across the value chain to work together, helping consumers to make sustainable choices regarding the things they buy and throw away.
We are particularly pleased to see Defra’s backing for a Full net-cost recovery model of producer responsibility, which outpaces European counterparts, although welcome the fact that businesses will be asked to help determine the detail of this through consultation early next year.”
Hugo Tagholm, chief executive, Surfers Against Sewage:
“We welcome the important and ambitious goals in the new Resource and Waste Strategy, but Surfers Against Sewage is concerned that meaningful action could be delayed or avoided by drawn-out consultation & implementation periods, every day we wait for action we witness more whales, sea birds and marine life dying from ingesting plastic.
There is overwhelming evidence to introduce a world-class, inclusive deposit return scheme here to capture almost 100% of the 38 million plastic bottles the country consumes daily. Delaying the introduction of this to 2023 or casting any doubt on this highly effective way for producers to pay for their waste, would only result in millions more bottles on beaches and in our rivers. It is vital that we restore the public’s trust in recycling with a simple UK-wide, inclusive, bottle deposit return scheme for all drinks containers.
Paul Taylor, chief executive at FCC Environment:
“This Strategy marks an important step forward in how we view our waste. With last week’s news that recycling rates have fallen, there’s clearly an urgent need to relook at our approach, and we welcome the ambitious plans Defra has laid out to make the UK a more resource efficient nation. It seems that they have listened to our views.
“In particular, we are encouraged to see a commitment Energy from Waste technology as a way to divert waste from landfill, and an increased focus on reuse, which has been a much-overlooked part of waste policy for many years.
A CIWM spokesperson:
“This Strategy provides a much needed framework to reboot recycling and support progress towards a more circular economy,” says CIWM Executive Director Chris Murphy. “It proposes many measures that CIWM has long been calling for, including fundamental reform of packaging producer responsibility, new producer responsibility schemes for other challenging waste streams such as tyres, and the full roll out of separate food waste collection.
“Importantly, the Strategy also acknowledges the need for action right at the top of the waste hierarchy. As well as a focus on food waste prevention and measures to address some of the key barriers to reuse and remanufacture, CIWM also welcomes the commitment to mirror the EU level ambitions to extend eco-design to embrace resource efficiency.”
Samantha Harding, Litter Programme Director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England:
“While an overhaul of our waste system is definitely a step in the right direction, for this ‘producer pays’ strategy to be a success, manufacturers must bear the full cost of dealing with the harmful waste they produce, including its collection.
‘It is great to see further commitments to introduce a deposit return system for cans and bottles, which is tried, tested and proven to boost recycle rates to over 90%. However, the roll-out of such a system may not happen for another five years. With the Scottish Government expected to introduce its deposit system by 2020, and the packaging producers – who would pay for the system – wanting it to be UK-wide, why does our government think it would take a further three years to get in line?”
Phil Wild, chief executive at James Cropper:
“As a business, we welcome the packaging reforms and investment in recycling infrastructure that the new waste strategy will bring, and see that this will help to embed a circular conscience across society.
“Good steps have already been taken in the market, such as the voluntary Costa scheme which shows how funding encourages recycling. We do recognise that this needs to go further, and hope that steps taken by the government to introduce extended producer responsibility will encourage a real step-change in recycling rates.
“Extending the life of valuable resources by keeping them in the supply chain longer is sustainable, and also makes sense from a commercial perspective. As a business, we are creating value by recycling used coffee cups into high-quality paper for packaging. We envisage that a potential deposit-return scheme for single-use drinks containers will help us to realise the potential of our CupCycling capabilities.”