Pow addresses MPs’ questions over EPR and DRS

Rebecca Pow

Resource and waste minister Rebecca Pow has answered MPs’ questions on the government’s upcoming Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation, as well as its recently announced Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) scheme.

Conservative MP for Rugby Mark Pawsey asked the Defra minister if the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Thérèse Coffey, has assessed the “potential merits” of using radio frequency identification tagging and barcodes to support the introduction of a Digital Deposit Return Scheme.

In her response, Pow stated that a “scalable technical solution” does not exist currently for a potential Digital DRS and won’t for several years.

“Therefore, we are currently delivering a Deposit Return Scheme that follows the ‘return to retail’ model as used internationally in other DRSs,” Pow wrote.

“We do recognise the benefits of a digital model and remain encouraged and interested in seeing the continued testing of the feasibility of introducing a digital scheme in the future.

“Should other opportunities for innovation emerge, we believe that the scheme will be able to evolve and adapt in line with the lifespan of the original infrastructure.”

We believe that the scheme will be able to evolve and adapt in line with the lifespan of the original infrastructure.

Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, asked the Pow what assessment Coffey has made of the importance of investment in chemical recycling for delivering a circular economy in the plastics sector.

Pow said that chemical recycling offers a “potential complementary route” for plastic recycling when mechanical recycling is “impractical or uneconomic”. The minister continued that Defra will continue to consider the role chemical recycling could play in ensuring the 65% recycling rate target is met by 2035.

Conservative MP for Carlisle John Stevenson asked the minister if Defra will publish an impact assessment of EPR on recycling and incineration rates.

Pow highlighted that increased recycling of packaging waste will lead to less packaging waste being sent to landfill or incinerated. She said that Defra will publish an assessment of the impacts of EPR on residual waste infrastructure, including incinerators, “in due course”.

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