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Resources and waste strategy ‘a step in the right direction’, says CPRE

Resources and waste strategy ‘a step in the right direction’, says CPRE ©CPRE

CPRE welcomes the long-anticipated launch of a Resources and Waste Strategy by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) today (18 December). It includes the commitment, previously made by environment secretary Michael Gove, to a deposit return system, for which CPRE has been campaigning.

The strategy aims to overhaul England’s waste system by valuing the resources that go into packaging, and make those who produce the packaging responsible for the cost of its recycling or disposal. CPRE warns, however, that it’s vital to ensure they are also responsible for the cost of its collection – otherwise, the whole system could be undermined.

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 taxpayers' 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’s 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, we are concerned that the government thinks it would take a further three years to develop in England.

‘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 manufacturers 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.’

CPRE is, however, pleased with the ambition of this landmark strategy, which sets out the way in which the government aims to tackle the failings of our current waste system. Some of the measures that the strategy proposes to introduce include:

• Ensuring producers pay the full net costs of disposal or recycling of packaging they place on the market by extending producer responsibility.
• Reviewing producer responsibility schemes for items that can be harder or costly to recycle.
• Introducing a consistent set of recyclable materials collected from all households and businesses, and consistent labelling on packaging so everyone knows what they can recycle.
• Ensuring food waste is collected weekly for every household.
• Introducing 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.
• Exploring mandatory guarantees and extended warranties on products, to encourage manufacturers to design products that last longer and drive up the levels of repair and re-use.

CPRE believes that this strategy, if introduced properly, could make a real difference to the amount of waste produced in England, and have a hugely positive impact on our countryside and environment. It believes that ensuring manufacturers of packaging pay the full cost of recovery and disposals could not only boost recycle rates, but also spark a wholesale, and necessary, shift in our approach to waste and resources.

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