Time to press on with EPR and Consistency and ditch DRS, says The Recycling Association

wheelie bins

The Recycling Association has said that the National Audit Office (NAO) report on resources and waste reforms shows that Defra needs to get on with implementing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and Consistency of Collection.

But the group also believes the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) should be abandoned in its current guise to get on with other reforms.

Chief executive Paul Sanderson said: “The Resources & Waste Strategy was launched in 2018 and we’d have hoped to have seen more progress by now. It is especially concerning that NAO found that effective delivery plans for this policy do not exist.

“How can recyclers, waste management companies, local authorities, retailers, manufacturers and other stakeholders plan for change when Defra hasn’t even done the delivery planning itself?

“EPR and Consistency of Collection reforms have the potential to transform the recycling sector, helping to improve the quality and quantity of material in this country. It means packaging will be designed for recyclability and almost everybody will have the same recycling collection wherever they live.

“In 2018, the recycling industry was broadly in favour of these reforms, but the policy has been allowed to drift by Defra and the NAO rightly warns that businesses need clarity.

“Defra needs to respond to this report in the right way by getting on with implementing these flagship policies of EPR and Consistency of Collections. We completely agree with the NAO that Defra needs to develop a clear outline path to achieving its ambitions and provide clarity to all stakeholders. Our message to Defra on EPR and Consistency is: get on with it.”

On DRS, The Recycling Association said it already had strong concerns about this policy as “it would allow cherry-picking of the best material and will lead to confusion over recycling when people are used to putting bottles and cans in their kerbside collections.”

Sanderson added: “The NAO has said that the effectiveness of DRS is uncertain and that Defra doesn’t have plans to trial the scheme. This is damning.

“DRS is a policy that should be dropped so that we can get on with implementing EPR and Consistency reforms. Wales is looking to trial digital DRS, so let’s wait and see how that goes. Digital DRS avoids the need to put in place expensive new infrastructure and allows householders to keep putting bottles and cans in their kerbside collections, while ensuring local authorities and recyclers have access to these materials too.

“EPR and Consistency are too important to be dragged down by DRS, which as the NAO shows may not even work the way it is intended.”