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Four major consultations on packaging and waste – how will they affect your business?

In December 2018 the Government produced its Resources and Waste Strategy and followed it in February 2019 with 4 consultations which highlight some changes that could have a major impact on small businesses – be they offices that produce waste, retailers that sell drinks to the public, or any business  that uses packaging.

These have been highlighted to FSB by the Somerset Waste Partnership, which handles domestic waste collection across Somerset as a whole.  As part of Somerset’s climate Strategy, SWP are keen to work with the Federation of Small Business to better understand how they can support businesses in Somerset to waste less and recycle more.

The outcome of the four national consultations were:

Deposit Return Scheme:

  • This involves a customer paying a deposit on a beverage container that is returned once the container is taken to a collection point.
  • The aim of this scheme is to reduce littering and to increase the capture of high quality recyclable material.
  • The consultation explored the principle of such a scheme, the scope of the scheme and how it would work
  • UK political commitment to this scheme has been strong and Scotland has already set out its own scheme.
  • The introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme is subject to further analysis of the evidence, costs and benefits and a second consultation is scheduled for 2020.
  • Subject to further consultation, government is minded to introduce a scheme to England , Wales and possibly Northern Ireland from 2023 or earlier if feasible.
  • The further consultation will finalise which drinks containers would be included, but government anticipate this could cover all types of beverage containers up to 3 litres in size.

Packaging Waste Extended Producer Responsibility

  • This scheme would make producers of packaging take full responsibility for the net costs resulting from products they place on the market, including recycling, disposal and littering.
  • The objective is to incentivise more sustainable packaging by creating a financial incentive for producers to reduce the amount of difficult to recycle material and unnecessary packaging they use, and using the funding to support improved recycling collections, communication and infrastructure. It is also likely to include mandatory labelling to identify recyclable packaging.
  • The Government plan to introduce this scheme from 2023, but there will be a further consultation in 2020. They have committed to engaging with product manufacturing, retail and packaging businesses and their associated trade bodies.

Consistency in Business Recycling Collections

  • This is targeted at improving the levels of recycling amongst businesses (currently estimated at 35-40%) as many do not separate their recycling  and to target food waste.
  • Government propose to amend legislation so that businesses must make arrangements to separate recyclable waste from residual waste, segregating the different materials they recycle.
  • Mandatory separate food waste collections (where businesses produce sufficient quantities of food waste) will also be required.
  • Government will bring forward more detailed proposals in 2020 and are giving further consideration to measures to reduce the costs of collection for small and micro firms.
  • Subject to this further work these changes would come into force from 2023.

Plastic Packaging Tax

  • The government is proposing taxing plastic packaging which contains less than 30% recycled content by 2022.
  • The aim of this tax is to create a clear economic incentive to use recycled material in the production of plastic packaging, creating greater demand for this materials and in turn stimulating increased levels or recycling of plastic waste.
Although the political situation is currently in a state of flux we would recommend that all members who would be affected by these proposals keep their eyes open for updates that may impact their businesses. We will endeavour to feed through to you new information as we receive it from our partners. In Somerset we will continue to work with Somerset Waste Partnership to explore how best to support our business community to waste less, recycle more and to make more sustainable choices.