BRC: Retailers need investment to build recycling capacity

M&S shopping bag

The British Retail Consortium has responded to the government’s long-awaited Waste and Resources Strategy, which will include measures to make businesses legally and financially responsible for their recycling and packaging waste.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) released its new Waste and Resources Strategy this morning, marking the first major waste policy intervention for England since 2011.

The new plans will be in place from 2023, and will include a “polluter pays” principle, requiring producers to pay the “full costs” of disposal for packaging they put on the market.

In light of the proposed measures, the BRC said retailers would need to work with the government to improve recycling systems.

“Retailers and consumers want to see a world with no plastic pollution and high levels of recycling; we, therefore, welcome a strategic approach to boosting the country’s recycling rates and waste management,” BRC food and sustainability director Andrew Opie said.

“Retailers are already making good progress towards this by removing, reducing and improving packaging, but we need government coordination and investment to build our recycling capacity and consistency, and ensure local authorities have the support to help us all recycle more.”

Less than 10 per cent of the costs of disposing of packaging waste is currently paid by producers, with the shortfall made up by local authorities.

The move comes after the latest government data confirmed household recycling rates in England flatlined again last year and have barely improved since 2012. 

Those results mean the UK is currently on track to miss binding EU targets to ensure half of household waste is recycled by 2020.

“The public must also be given further reassurances that the materials they are putting into their recycling bins are actually being recycled,” Opie said.

“The government must be clear that the revenues raised from businesses through the proposals outlined will be reinvested into recycling infrastructure.”

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