Neil Grundon, Deputy Chairman of Grundon Waste Management, says don’t overcomplicate the rules on EPR and business waste.
The so-called ‘waste wars’ between the public and private sector over the reform of commercial waste collections and the best way to embrace proposals for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) make me long for a simpler time.
Can it really be true that local authorities chiefs are suggesting new rules and regulations on businesses which could see waste collection decisions made not on the services available and the best waste company for the job; but on geographical zoning and a franchise model.
Have they not heard of competition? Or customer choice? Or finding the right waste management supplier for a specific type of waste?
One size doesn’t fit all requirements, but the current public sector mood seems to think it does.
Speaking up for the private sector, ESA quite rightly is expressing concern that ‘local monopolies’ could be created for commercial waste collection, and it says the current Defra proposals have the potential to risk undermining service efficiency and recycling. I have to agree.
If Grundon were to be handed ABC postcode on a plate, while my competitor automatically services XYZ postcode; where’s the incentive for our business to invest in superior technology and innovation? A level playing field is one thing, but this is positively an uphill climb.
Can it really be true that local authorities chiefs are suggesting new rules and regulations on businesses which could see waste collection decisions made not on the services available and the best waste company for the job; but on geographical zoning and a franchise model
We’re proud to be able to handle all our customers’ waste needs – it might be specialist items such as aerosols, taken to our AeroPack reprocessing facility; chemicals or batteries for disposal sent to our Hazardous Waste Transfer Station; or recyclable materials to our network of Materials Recycling Facilities.
In doing so, we earn rebates for customers and help them go above and beyond their recycling targets. Where would be the incentive to deliver this type of service if their business was handed to us on a (china) plate.
The point is, we have invested in all different types of technology so our customers have a choice – these proposals will remove that element of choice from the customer decision-making process and they overcomplicate a system which is based on market forces and putting the customer first.
Of course we support the concept of EPR, but Defra seems to be using a sledgehammer to crack a nut when it comes to implementation. Unless there is some sort of dastardly plan to control our rubbish collections so they can data chip everything we throw away.
Which brings me on to the fact that you should never try to overcomplicate things.
In days gone by, my grandmother ran her own tobacconist and sweet shop. Sweets were weighed out of their big glass jars and sold in paper bags, which would have gone straight on the fire. The amount of waste that business produced would have been minimal.
Today, bags of sweets come ready-wrapped in (often) difficult to recycle plastic and are usually sold in much larger quantities than required. We tend to pick them up along with the rest of our weekly shopping and while there is undoubtedly some choice, it’s not the same as carefully watching the shopkeeper measure out a few ounces of sherbert lemons and deciding whether or not they will go with the cola bottles or the flying saucers.
I recently discovered that you can even buy your favourite ‘old-fashioned’ sweets online and have them couriered to your door – that doesn’t sound very environmentally-friendly to me, but I don’t see anyone wanting to control which courier companies deliver to which locations.
No, just us waste companies then…
Got something to say on one of our opinion pieces? Contact the editor with your view at email@example.com