Reward businesses for reducing packaging, think tank says

9th January 2017


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Waste ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Products ,
  • Ecodesign

Author

Andrew McKenzie

Manufacturers should be rewarded for designing less wasteful packaging, using recycled materials and encouraging customers to recycle, the Green Alliance has said.

Local authorities in England spend around £300m a year dealing with waste packaging, but have no control over how products are designed or packaged, or how residents use recycling services, the alliance said.

The think tank has added its voice to calls by local authorities and the waste industry for more responsibility for recycling to fall on producers to relieve the burden on councils. Government data revealed that the overall recycling rate in England fell for the first time in 2015, having risen steadily since 2001.

The alliance looked at how the system could be improved on behalf of the Circular Economy Task Force, the business group it convenes, drawing on examples of waste systems used by other countries. France varies how much producers pay towards dealing with packaging waste according to the recyclability and recycled content of their packaging, a system the alliance believes would work in the UK. Producer responsibility schemes should reward design that encourages waste prevention, reuse, recyclability, greater use of recycled content and public recycling campaigns, it said.

In its report, the alliance also recommended that producers be given greater influence over the design of producer responsibility schemes to ensure cost-effective collections in return for paying a greater share of the costs. In Belgium, making the private sector fully responsible for designing collection systems has led to higher recycling rates than in England at a 25% lower cost, the alliance pointed out.

However, it doubts that these principles can be retrofitted onto the UK’s current market-based approach to producer responsibility. The UK’s packaging recovery note system was never intended to internalise all the costs of packaging wastes, and incentives to design for waste prevention have only been introduced in countries where there is a uniform set of tariffs, it said.

Brexit provided the opportunity to design a new system for dealing with waste, the alliance said. England has mostly followed EU policy for waste and resources rather than developing its own strategy, as Scotland and Wales have done. This has led to a patchwork of regulation, leading to inefficient waste and recycling collection and processing systems, it said.

If the UK leaves both the EU and the single market, the task for England to develop its own waste and resources strategy will be complex, but it could lead to a system driven by what makes sense economically rather than what is necessary to meet EU targets.

The alliance also recommended that councils charge more to residents who waste more, which would cut its costs and make the system fairer for those who recycle properly. Councils should standardise collection systems to stop confusion over what can and cannot be recycled, it added.

Green Alliance senior policy adviser Jonny Hazell said: ‘Recycling in England has become dysfunctional. A more consistent system would cost less and be fairer for all. It would also guarantee that British manufacturers get more of the high quality recycled materials they need and reduce their dependence on imports.’

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

EU and UK citizens fear net-zero delivery deficit

Support for net zero remains high across the UK and the EU, but the majority of citizens don't believe that major emitters and governments will reach their climate targets in time.

16th May 2024

Read more

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

Despite cost-of-living concerns, four-fifths of shoppers are willing to pay more for sustainably produced or sourced goods, a global survey has found.

16th May 2024

Read more

One in five UK food businesses are not prepared for EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) coming into force in December, a new survey has uncovered.

16th May 2024

Read more

Each person in the UK throws a shocking 35 items of unwanted clothes and textiles into general waste every year on average, according to a new report from WRAP.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Taxing the extraction of fossil fuels in the world’s most advanced economies could raise $720bn (£575bn) by 2030 to support vulnerable countries facing climate damages, analysis has found.

2nd May 2024

Read more

The largest-ever research initiative of its kind has been launched this week to establish a benchmark for the private sector’s contribution to the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close