Producer duty fails cost test

16th September 2011

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Prevention & Control ,
  • Waste ,
  • Disposal ,
  • Minimisation



Government measures to ensure manufacturers take responsibility for the waste created at the end of product life cycles are failing because local authorities and taxpayers are paying to recover and recycle the materials.

That is the conclusion of a report for the Scottish government outlining potential producer responsibility regimes.

To be effective the regimes, which cover packaging, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and end-of-life vehicles, must ensure the full financial burden of collecting and recycling waste rests with the producer, argues the report.

These firms can then pass the additional costs on to consumers, ultimately following the “polluter pays” principle. However, this is not the case in the UK, where efforts to minimise the cost to industry of regimes such as the obligation to take back WEEE have resulted in local councils paying for the majority of waste management.

Another criticism is that the UK only attempts to meet the minimum requirements of EU Directives, rather than attempting to set leading targets.

Responding to the criticisms in the report, a spokesperson for the business department said the regimes were important in meeting the UK’s obligations under European law but that the government was committed to improving them where necessary.

“The government wants to work in partnership with local authorities and businesses to encourage and spread best practice in waste prevention and resource management,” he said. “This includes looking to business to take greater responsibility for the products they place on the market, from design to disposal.”

The Scottish report was welcomed by the country’s environment secretary Richard Lochhead, who said it would help to inform future waste policy in Scotland.

“As our zero waste plan is driven forward, there is scope to consider how existing producer responsibility regimes may more effectively influence and improve the management of waste and resources.”
Zero Waste Scotland has already confirmed that it is looking at options to take forward pilots of deposit-and-return systems outlined in the report.


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