Government should go ‘further and faster’ with packaging schemes, says NLWA

Government should speed up and improve plans to bring in packaging schemes, according to the North London Waste Authority (NLWA).

In its response to government consultations on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and a deposit return scheme (DRS), the NLWA signalled its firm stance on the fact that further, quicker action is needed on these packaging schemes.

The waste authority responded: “There must be no further delays to EPR, which would make companies responsible for dealing with their packaging at the end of its life, and DRS, in which consumers pay a deposit on soft drinks bought in shops, which they get back by returning the empty bottles or cans.

“Further action is still needed on waste prevention and packaging reuse before the end of its life and the urgent need for a simple, clear labelling system for everyday goods so that people know what packaging can be recycled, and what can’t.

“It should also show whether packaging is covered by the DRS when that is introduced. Local authorities should have powers to make recycling compulsory.”

Consultations on both schemes have been delayed by over a year now, after the last consultation took place in 2019.

The NLWA has argued that by the time the first EPR scheme is introduced, 28 billion more plastic bottles will have been bought in the UK, killing up to 2 million seabirds and 200,000 sea mammals.

The fact that incentives are few and far-between for packaging producers to focus on reuse, and no action is expected on this until 2025 at the earliest, ‘effectively gives producers the green light to churn out single-use plastic for another four to five years’.

Chair of North London Waste Authority, Cllr Clyde Loakes, says: “Given the Climate Emergency, we have serious concerns that there is a lot of talking and not enough real action – delays are literally costing the Earth.

“And whilst these proposals are a good start, we believe they could go further, particularly on preventing waste in the first place – companies cannot keep making new plastic packaging just because it can be recycled – there is enough in the system already.

“These schemes must not be designed for producers, but for the benefit of the planet and our communities.

We support ambitious action. We will champion with Government comprehensive action to reinforce the ‘polluter pays principle’ and we will challenge where we think this is not being achieved.”

Alongside any DRS to be introduced in the UK, NLWA has called for a single-labelling system for all packaging.

This critical element of a DRS would prevent contamination of recycling, which currently costs taxpayers £2 million a year.