Following the UK government’s publication of its long-awaited Resources & Waste Strategy, outlining a comprehensive new plan for recycling a range of materials, including food waste, a number of industry bodies have reacted…
Chris Murphy of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) commented: "This strategy provides a much needed framework to reboot recycling and support progress towards a more circular economy.
“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.
"The range of measures to tackle waste crime are also welcome and reflects work done by CIWM, ESA and others to keep this growing problem on the Government's agenda. The proposal for mandatory electronic tracking of waste, meanwhile, will not only help to prevent waste crime but will also provide better data to ensure that the economic value of secondary materials can be fully captured.
"There is still a lot of hard work to do, however, and we have an unrivalled opportunity as a sector to engage with Government over the next few months as the raft of expected consultations are launched.
“CIWM and other key bodies including INCPEN, ESA and WRAP will be holding a major engagement event in London on 13th February to bring together stakeholders from across the sector to discuss the future of packaging producer responsibility, the role of a Deposit Return Scheme and the consistency agenda.”
Simon Ellin Recycling Association chief executive said: "Over two years ago we launched our Quality First campaign to improve the quality of materials for recycling, and the Resources and Waste Strategy addresses many of our concerns that led to this.
"There is a commitment to improve the quality of materials that are sent for export, and this has to be welcomed as long as it isn't so stringent as to become a barrier. But the signs are that we will look to send high quality material to end destinations and we support that principle.
"Full cost recovery for producers is included in the Strategy and will be consulted on, but we are pleased to see that the retailers and manufacturers will need to pay for the recycling of the materials they put on the market.
"We also welcome the idea of a modulated fee, so that those who use packaging that is very difficult or impossible to recycle will have to pay most. This should provide an incentive to them to make their packaging more recyclable.
"The Recycling Association is also pleased to see a commitment to consistent collections for households as this will make it much easier for people to recycle, while clearer labelling will help them put the right items in the right bin.
"Compulsory electronic tracking of waste should help to crack down on waste crime, but we need to ensure it doesn't create onerous bureaucracy for The Recycling Association members.
"Although we welcome the previously announced tax on plastic packaging that does not use a minimum 30% recycled content, the Resources and Waste Strategy does not mention how investment will be generated for new UK recycling capacity to provide that recycled content. We hope the consultation on this will address this omission. It also needs to look at how improvements can be made to the planning system to make it easier to set up new recycling capacity in the UK.
"Overall, the Resources and Waste Strategy is a comprehensive document that has the potential to transform the recycling sector in England. In particular, the Strategy puts quality first and that is something we welcome."
Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association added:
"ADBA has long campaigned for the introduction of mandatory separate food waste collections in England and we warmly welcome the proposals set out in the Resources & Waste Strategy.
“It’s an absolute no-brainer that inedible food waste should be separately collected so it doesn’t end up wasted in incinerators or landfill and so that the energy and nutrition locked up in it can be reused, reducing the UK’s need for fossil-based energy and fertiliser. As the Strategy says, it is a moral scandal that so much of this valuable resource is wasted.
“A commitment by ministers to universal food waste collections will finally allow England to catch up with the rest of the UK in recycling its inedible food waste whilst, most importantly, reducing the amount of food wasted in the first place.
“However, 2023 is a long way off. There are around 70 local authorities with their waste contracts up for renewal in the next three years – for this policy to have tangible effects we need actions from the Government long before 2023 to provide funding, guidance and support to LAs to implement separate food waste collections as quickly as possible. This is not only vital for us to meet our commitments under the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but is also the lowest cost option.
“Ensuring we are doing the most we can to reduce emissions from food waste will help demonstrate the leadership needed to host COPP in 2026 too, and contribute to the UK’s energy security.
“We therefore ask for the promised consultation to be published as quickly as possible, so stakeholders can give their views on how to get separate food waste collections operating on the ground ASAP and ADBA is ready and willing to help the Government bring the RWS to life.”
Anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas technologies convert organic wastes and purpose-grown crops into renewable heat and power, clean transport fuel, and nutrient-rich natural fertiliser. WRAP has estimated that UK food waste sent to AD currently produces 1,000 GWh, enough to power 1 million homes for over one month.
Jeremy Jacobs, Technical Director of the Renewable Energy Association, said:
“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.
“It is further welcome that the strategy aims to incentivise producers, at the top of the waste hierarchy, to ensure their products can be reused and recycled. Government need to consider how the funds raised from this will support activity to see much needed increases in recycling rates and ensure the available capacity of energy recovery technologies where recycling is not possible.”
Mike Jackson managing director of waste consultancy Prismm Environmental commented:
"The Resources and Waste Strategy has much within it to be supportive of. However, the Strategy sets out that producers including packaging manufacturers, will need to pay the full cost of recycling their products.
"It also includes a modulated fee, so that those that have the most complex packaging that is hardest, or even impossible to recycle, will have the most to pay.
"Under our Packaging 2 Recycling scheme, we promote the use of carton board as a perfect material as it is easy to recycle. We can advise companies under the scheme, which is supported by the British Printing Industry Federation, of the most effective way to ensure their packaging is recyclable.
“With costs set to increase from 2023, now is the perfect time to start thinking about how to avoid the huge hike in fees that packaging manufacturers may face."
Samantha Harding Litter Programme Director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “Last year, the packaging industry paid just 7% towards the £1 billion that was spent dealing with the waste that they produce, leaving under-resourced councils to foot the rest of the bill, with taxpayer money. 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 5 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 3 years to get in line?
‘The best way to tackle the devastation caused to our natural world by waste, is by reducing the amount of waste we produce. The Government must work with manufactures towards a circular economy for waste, put a halt to built-in obsolescence and ensure that the products they produce are built to last. Waste prevention must be prioritised, with landfill and incineration used solely as a last resort.”
Victoria Hutchin, Associate Waste & Resource Management Consultant, at WYG added:
“The Government’s resources and waste strategy puts waste prevention at its core and is the most ambitious and visionary piece of policy the sector has seen, certainly since the launch of Waste Strategy 2000, and perhaps ever. 2019 is shaping up to be the most exciting year for the resources and waste sector, opening debates ranging from eco-design, prevention of early product obsolescence and preserving natural capital, to improving consumer awareness, influencing buying habits and increasing the responsibilities of producers and distributors.
"The Strategy provides the framework for reinvigorating the sector, challenging the status quo and creating the shift we need to an informed, accountable and sustainable resources-focused economy.”
“The Government’s resources and waste strategy brings some much longed for good news to local authority waste and recycling officers with its acknowledgement of the fundamental role they play in supporting the delivery of the policy ambitions contained within. We work closely with local authorities to review, design and procure frontline waste and recycling services and what has become increasingly apparent is the pressure on budgets which often sits in stark contrast with the need to continually improve.
"We are delighted to see that the Strategy is addressing this head-on with the acknowledgement that appropriate resources at local authorities will be needed to meet the new net costs arising from the policies; both in terms of initial set-up investment and ongoing costs.
"Potential quality and service performance indicators, material consistency, separate food waste collections, kerbside battery collections and the role of Deposit Return Schemes are but a few of the areas which will be explored over the next 12 months or so: 2019 will certainly be an exciting and thought-provoking year for the sector."
Manufacturers to Pay Full Cost for Recycling UK Packaging
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