The Government launched its ambitious 25 Year Environment Strategy in January 2018. This was followed up by the Resources and Waste Strategy in December 2018. The Resources and Waste Strategy is a very ambitious document requiring significant change.
To start this process DEFRA launched consultations into three key areas in February 2019:
- Consistency in Household and Business Recycling Collections in England
- Reforming the UK Packaging Producer Responsibility System (EPR)
- Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
At the same time Treasury launched a consultation into a Plastic Packaging Tax.
The LGA has responded to each of the consultations. Our key policy messages on the combined impact of the proposals are:
- We support the ambition of increasing recycling rates and welcome the commitment to delivering full net costs. But we aren’t currently reassured that the modelling which exists will deliver true full net costs for all councils.
- Any funding for local government needs to be treated as additional. Most councils are paying for waste and recycling services through council tax income. Any new funding into the system must go in its entirety to councils if Government wants to achieve higher quantity and quality recycling. An improvement on current recycling levels needs a significant financial uplift.
- We recognise the Government’s desire to deliver greater consistency in the materials collected. Around 70 per cent of councils already collect the proposed set of materials, with the gaps being glass and plastic pots, tubs and trays. Councils need the funding to support the expansion of their services to cover new materials. The sector supports food waste if it is covered by new burdens. But garden waste remains an area where councils should continue to be allowed to charge for collection.
- Councils should be free to decide how to deliver their waste services at a local level. There are a range of local issues such as geography, property type, deprivation and rurality which determine the method in which waste can be collected. DEFRA’s preference for multi stream collections is not supported by councils.
- DRS is a concept for which there is support but the current proposals do not demonstrate value for money.
The LGA will continue to work with Defra and other stakeholders to understand the impact of the proposals and the funding implications for local government.