Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, has unveiled a major new waste strategy that will see businesses and manufacturers having to pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste.
The move will overhaul England’s waste system, putting a legal onus on those responsible for producing damaging waste to take greater responsibility and foot the bill.
The announcement forms part of the government’s ambitious new Resources and Waste Strategy, the first comprehensive update in more than a decade.
Producers will also be expected to take more responsibility for items that can be harder or costly to recycle including cars, electrical goods, and batteries.
Householders will see the existing complicated recycling system simplified, with new plans for a consistent approach to recycling across England. Timings for introduction will be subject to discussions at the Spending Review.
Launching the strategy at Veolia’s recycling centre in London, one of the most advanced sorting facilities in Europe, Gove said: “Our strategy sets out how we will go further and faster, to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Together we can move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society, to one that looks at waste as a valuable resource.
“We will cut our reliance on single-use plastics, end confusion over household recycling, tackle the problem of packaging by making polluters pay, and end the economic, environmental and moral scandal that is food waste.
“Through this plan we will cement our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, leaving our environment in a better state than we inherited it.
To help drive up recycling levels further, the government will introduce consistent set of recyclable material for collection, subject to consultation. This will be funded by industry through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which will see industry pay higher fees if their products are harder to reuse, repair or recycle and will encourage sustainable design, subject to consultation. EPR for packaging will raise between £0.5 billion and £1 billion a year for recycling and disposal.”
The new strategy also proposes the introduction of a deposit return scheme, subject to consultation, to increase the recycling of single-use drinks containers including bottles, cans, and disposable cups filled at the point of sale.
Speaking at Veolia Southwark’s Integrated Waste Management Facility in London, Richard Kirkman, Veolia’s Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, said: “The government has listened to industry and these steps have the clear potential to dramatically change the way the sector operates to increase recycling and recovery rates.
“With consistent collections and advanced facilities like this at Southwark more recyclable materials can be collected for reprocessing into new products. As a business we are ready to invest, to take advantage of new technology, build more infrastructure and work with brand owners and local authorities to harness resources on an industrial scale.
“It’s the direction we have been hoping and waiting for, and with the public and businesses playing their part the UK can build a sustainable future.”
The strategy was welcomed by Gudrun Cartwright, environment director at Business in the Community. “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 80 major brands signing our Waste to Wealth Commitment to help double the nation’s resource productivity and eliminate avoidable waste by 2030.”
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