Expect DRS and consistency responses this year

Responses to government consultations on the deposit return scheme (DRS) and its consistency reforms are expected before the end of 2022, Defra’s head of resources and waste strategy evaluation, Dr Barbara Leach said.

Speaking at the LARAC (Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee) conference 2022 on 5 October, Dr Leach said that publishing responses to the consultations are an “absolute priority” for Defra.

Dr Leach described the Resources and Waste Strategy as one of the most ambitious since the early 2000s. She said that implementing consistency in collections will simplify recycling for households and businesses in England to reduce confusion and discrepancies, stating that the aim of the scheme is to “increase participation and reduce contamination”.

Defra will publish statutory documents, alongside its response to the consultation, that set out proposals covering both business and household waste, Dr Leach confirmed during her speech.

She continued that the documents would include “important changes” for local authorities and producers. These include payments for managing packaging waste for local authorities to cover the cost of collection.

Without the EPR funding, the Government will not be able to deliver on their consistent collection ambitions in England, Lee Marshall said.

Income from material sales will be deducted from those payments, Dr Leach said before adding, deductions will be possible where local authorities are deemed to be “ineffective in their recycling”.

Dr Leach said that many local authorities will have to determine whether implementing the law is “technically, ecologically, and economically practicable” for them due to the mandated separate collections of material.

She went on to say that fee modification will be “switched on” in 2025 and that a public organisation will oversee the programme. Producers are not happy about this since everything had been setting them up to run that plan, Dr Leach said.

Recently, the Government have been asked to “rethink” EPR plans. Writing in The Sun, the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) chief, Karen Betts, said that “soaring inflation and the cost of living” is one reason why the Government should reconsider EPR plans, stating EPR for packaging is “overly complex” and would end up costing shoppers more.

Contrastingly, in response, CIWM’s Policy and External Affairs Director, Lee Marshall, said: “Producers, and all others involved in the packaging journey, have agreed that changes are needed, so they must be seen through to fruition.

“Without the EPR funding, the Government will not be able to deliver on their consistent collection ambitions in England, and so we will not see the increase in recycling rates everyone is working so hard to deliver.

“The household collection system needs an injection of funding and, if it doesn’t come through EPR, it is difficult to see where else it will come from.”

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