Government sets out plans to overhaul waste system

Building on commitments made in the government’s landmark Resources and Waste Strategy published in December, the consultations provide detail on plans to make packaging producers pay the full cost of dealing with their waste and to introduce a consistent set of materials collected across England from households for recycling, and bringing in a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for cans and bottles, subject to consultation.

The changes will make up a key part of the government’s upcoming Environment Bill, to be introduced early in the second session of Parliament.

As well as making businesses and manufacturers pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste, householders will see the existing complicated recycling system simplified. A consultation has launched today on a consistent set of recyclable materials collected from all households and businesses, and consistent labelling on packaging so consumers know what they can recycle.

These will include separate weekly food waste collections for every household in England and could include free garden waste collections for households with gardens. Having comprehensive and frequent collections will ensure more reliable services for householders while retaining local flexibility.

The government is also seeking views on introducing a Deposit Return Scheme for cans and bottles, subject to consultation, alongside setting out two potential models – ‘all-in’ or ‘on-the-go’. This could drive up the recycling of an estimated three billion plastic bottles which are currently incinerated, sent to landfill or left to pollute our streets, countryside and marine environment.

On the same day, government has also launched its consultation on introducing a world-leading tax on plastic packaging which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content, subject to consultation, from April 2022. This will address the current issue of it often being cheaper to use new, non-recycled plastic material despite its greater environmental impact.

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