Businesses and manufacturers will have a legal obligation to foot the bill for the disposal or recycling of waste packaging they produce under new plans by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
“We can move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society, to one that looks at waste as a valuable resource,” Gove said in a statement.
“We will cut our reliance on single-use plastics, end confusion over household recycling, tackle the problem of packaging by making polluters pay, and end the economic, environmental and moral scandal that is food waste.”
Government’s new Resources and Waste Strategy aims an overhaul of England’s waste system. Producers of items that are harder to recycle, such as cars and batteries, will have to take more responsibility for what they produce, while a byzantine system for household recycling will be simplified in a bid to boost recycling rates.
The proposals only affect England as environmental policy is devolved to regional assemblies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
In October, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a tax on plastic packaging which does not meet a threshold of at least 30 percent recycled content from April 2022.
Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to eradicate avoidable plastic waste by 2042 as a growing flood of plastic endangers life in the world’s oceans.
Britain also wants to tackle food waste. Supermarkets and other food businesses will have to report annual food surplus and government may consult on mandatory targets to prevent food waste if no more progress is made.
“Our priority is to stop surplus food from becoming waste … Ideally, surplus food should be redistributed for people to eat,” Gove’s strategy paper said.
Responding to the strategy, the Association of Convenience Stores expressed concern on the potential double taxation the policy could entail.
“All parts of the supply chain have a role to play when it comes to reducing the impact of single use plastics, but we remain concerned about any measures that result in what would effectively be taxing retailers and/or consumers twice on the same products,” said James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS.
“We will continue to work closely with DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) on how the convenience sector can play its part in reducing waste without unnecessary burdens.”