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Blueprint for resources and waste

Businesses and manufacturers will pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste, under a major new government strategy unveiled by the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, in December 2018[3]. The move will overhaul England’s waste system, putting a legal onus on those responsible for producing damaging waste to foot the bill for its recycling or disposal.

The announcement forms part of the Government’s new Resources and Waste Strategy, the first comprehensive update in more than a decade. It aims to eliminate avoidable plastic waste and reduce environmental contamination.

It will be funded by industry through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which will see industry pay higher fees if their products are harder to reuse, repair or recycle and hopes to encourage sustainable design, subject to consultation.

The Resources and Waste Strategy addresses a number of issues that are of specific relevance to the food sector.

It aims to:

• ensure producers pay the full net costs of disposal or recycling of packaging they place on the market by extending producer responsibility

• introduce a consistent set of recyclable materials collected from all households and businesses, and consistent labelling on packaging so consumers know what they can recycle, to drive-up recycling rates

• ensure weekly collections of food waste for every household – restoring weekly collections in some local authorities

• introduce 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

• introduce annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses. Should progress be insufficient, consultation on introducing mandatory targets for food waste prevention will be triggered.

This builds on existing approaches to tackle unnecessary waste including a 5p plastic bag charge, which has taken over 15bn single-use plastic bags out of circulation, a £15m pilot scheme for reducing food waste and a tax on plastic packaging which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content, subject to consultation, from April 2022.

The Government is also investing £20m to tackle plastics and boost recycling: £10m more for plastics research and development and £10m to pioneer innovative approaches to boosting recycling and reducing litter, such as smart bins. This is in addition to the £20m for plastics research and development through the Plastics Innovation Fund announced in March 2018.



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