I also completely understand the need to take a measured approached based on the other inflationary, financial pressures UK PLC now faces.
However, after months of consultation and deliberation, the government has, I believe, missed a golden opportunity to create a cohesive, UK-wide approach to producer responsibility for packaging waste.
Under the revised Defra proposals published last month (March), the UK’s delayed EPR scheme now features key significant differences across the devolved nations that takes us further away from an efficient, cost-effective approach to managing waste and encouraging far greater use of recyclable packaging.
A fragmented approach can only result in additional costs to national businesses as they are forced to adopt regional strategies, and confusion for consumers on where and how they should dispose of waste packaging.
For instance, some industry consultation responses raised concerns about glass collection via reverse vending machines (RVMs). They made the case that this form of DRS infrastructure potentially posed a greater safety hazard to consumers transporting glass to collection points; could result in poorer quality, crushed mixed glass than that currently collected through kerbside recycling, plus increased handling costs, equipment, and collection complexity.
Disparity between nations
The result is that there’s still a disparity between how the four nations intend to deal with glass bottles, despite them remaining in-scope of EPR: England has abandoned the inclusion of glass in any DRS scheme, while Northern Ireland will keep the issue under review until DRS is fully operational to ensure glass drinks containers meet the required recycling targets.