SEP responds to Government consultations on waste

SEP has responded to the Government’s consultations on proposals that are intended to overhaul the country’s waste system.

Following publication of the Government’s resources and waste strategy in December 2018, a series of consultations were launched this year to seek views on how the commitments made in the strategy should be met.

Officers from across the partnership worked together to provide a single, unified response to the consultations. However, where differences of opinion between councils exist, these were highlighted. Elsewhere, responses included case studies and examples of work carried out in the county that demonstrated Surrey to be one of the best in the country when it comes to waste and recycling.

The consultations sought views on the four key measures below:

Extended Producer Responsibility
The strategy promises that the costs of recycling will be borne by those that produce packaging waste and place it on the market.

SEP agreed that packaging producers paying the full cost of dealing with their waste would provide a drive to encourage better packaging. There were, however, concerns about how it would be funded and a belief that any scheme should be led by the Government.

The Government will also introduce a consistent set of recyclable materials for collection in England (including separate food waste collection), no matter which part of the country people live in.

There were a range of responses given to this consultation. The response outlined that there should be a core set of dry mixed recycling collected although it shouldn’t be fully separated due to health and safety concerns, statutory guidance should be provided on minimum service standards and businesses should be mandated to manage their waste better. SEP also responded that funding should be provided for ongoing food waste collection, garden waste collection should remain opt-in and there was broad support for standardised bin colours.

Deposit Return Scheme
The Government sought views on how a deposit return scheme, where consumers pay an up-front deposit when they buy a drink, which is redeemed on return of the empty container, could work.

SEP concluded that the ‘all-in’ model, where a range of bottles are targeted for return, was the preferred option for the scheme, which would see consumers paid a fee for bottles returned to collection points.

Plastic packaging tax
The strategy included a new tax on the production and import of plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content

SEP disagreed with which plastics should be in scope for a tax, arguing that encouraging the use of compostable plastics will disrupt the recycling process. As we can’t accept this type of plastic for recycling, an increase in use may lead to an increase in material that isn’t recycled.