Recycling reform is on the way

‘Back to the drawing board’: Retail industry calls for recycling reform

The retail industry has set out six points for recycling reform, which it says are needed to create a waste management system that is fit for the future.

According to the industry – expressed through an official statement from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) – ringfenced funding is required to stimulate investment in recycling. The trade body has urged for all funds generated by the packaging Extender Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme to be spent on the operation of and investment in the UK recycling system.

Recycling reform, the BRC added, should also be industry-led to ensure a cost-effective system that promotes a circular economy where materials are recycled, only to be reused as future recyclable materials.

The BRC also called for:

  • A clear and workable plan for recycling reform delivery, which means rethinking the current timetable to facilitate improvements to the proposed system. Clearer information on the fees are required for different materials, according to the trade body
  • Co-ordination with other waste management reforms. The BRC said EPR only makes sense if done alongside improvements to household waste collection, and that once this is in place, the UK should consider a new deposit return scheme to fill any gaps
  • To be cost-effective for households and businesses. The BRC said, given the £1.7 billion expected cost of a reformed packaging EPR, the government should link payments to improvements in local authority recycling performance
  • Alignment across local authorities and devolved businesses. This, the BRC argued, helps consumers recycle effectively and allows national-level messaging on products and through the media.

The BRC has gone public with recycling reform comments with less than a year to go until the reform of the EPR (due to come into force in April next year). It said the proposals in their current form are flawed, with consumers potentially set to foot the bill for it without any meaningful improvements to UK recycling rates.

Currently, it is thought the proposals lack ambition and fail to set out how an effective, efficient, national and fit-for-the-future recycling system will be created in the UK.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, said: “It’s time that government went back to the drawing board.

“We have the opportunity to get it right on the future of a waste management scheme that will determine UK recycling rates for a generation. We want to see a scheme which improves recycling in the UK and ensures a steady supply of recyclable material that can be reused for future packaging.”

She added: “Under existing proposals, funding meant for UK recycling could end up servicing local authority debt or be put to uses which do not improve our national recycling infrastructure. Government’s haste to introduce a new system is undermining the system itself. It’s time to work with retailers and manufacturers to ensure the public get a world class recycling system that collects and processes as much recyclable material as possible.”

The BRC has representatives talking about sustainability strategy and innovation at this week’s Retail Technology Show, which runs at London’s Olympia from 26-27 April.

[Image credit: Green Retail World]

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