UK Government announces plans to overhaul waste system

The UK government announced plans to “overhaul” its waste system, in order to reduce plastic pollution and moving towards a circular economy that would not rely on single-use items.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is launching four major consultations on proposed changes, including a plan to make plastic packaging producers pay the full cost of dealing with their waste and introducing a deposit return scheme for cans and bottles.

The plans also aim to make household rubbish collections more consistent around the country.

“We will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling,” Environment Secretary Michael Gove said in a statement.

The tax will be payable by producers who fail to use enough recycled material.

At present, producers pay only around 10 percent of the cost of dealing with plastic packaging waste, the environment ministry said.

Under an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system, the industry will pay higher fees if its packaging is harder to reuse or recycle.

EPR for packaging will raise between 800 million and one billion pounds a year for recycling and disposal, the ministry said.

Government will seek views on two options for how a deposit return scheme might work for cans and glass or plastic bottles, it added.

The first would target a large amount of drinks on the market, irrespective of container size. The second, known as the “on-the-go” model, would concern smaller container sizes – those most often sold for consumption outside the home.

“This could drive up the recycling of an estimated three billion plastic bottles which are currently incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute streets, countryside and the marine environment,” the ministry said.

Household waste recycling rates in England have risen from around 11 percent in 2000/1 to about 45 percent, but since 2013 rates have plateaued, according to ministry figures.


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