NLWA calls for Government to go ‘further and faster’ with Extended Producer Responsibility

North London Waste Authority (NLWA) is gathering representatives from local authorities, businesses and academics for its annual Waste Prevention Exchange. The one-day virtual event on 4 March is a space to share best practice and discuss emerging issues.

The 2021 event focuses on the recent reform of the Producer Responsibility scheme for packaging and the potential impact of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for other materials.

Cllr LoakesThe overriding opinion of the NLWA is that EPR must go ‘further and faster’ in order to tackle the climate crisis.

It is calling for EPR to be extended further than its present focus on packaging, electricals and batteries.

NLWA also proposes that EPR is used as a means to shift resources up the waste hierarchy to promote the gap in the market for more products to be durable, reusable and repairable.

To stimulate more responsible product design, NLWA calls for the elimination of planned obsolescence, improved repairability and more circularity, including the use of reusable or recyclable materials.

Chair of North London Waste Authority, Cllr Clyde Loakes, said: “The new EPR regulations are a step in the right direction, but could go so much further.

“We are still at least two years away from the scheme being introduced and it is a huge disappointment that the plans only tackle the tip of a rapidly melting iceberg.

“Where is the ambition to put the UK at the forefront of the fight against the climate emergency?”

In February 2019, the UK Government received feedback that was very much in favour of the principles and outcomes put forward for a reformed packaging producer responsibility scheme.

However, consultation on the Government’s final proposals has been held back for the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

NLWA points out that the UK government is too focused on packaging recycling when attempting to take on the climate emergency, when more focus should be on items like mattresses, furniture and clothing.

These products are currently being made in ways that dissuade repair and reuse, impacting and damaging the environment, both during production and when those items are no longer wanted.

The European Commission aims to ensure that a variety of products will be recyclable, repairable and designed to last longer as part of a plan to halve waste across the EU by 2030.

The NLWA favours the Ecodesign Directive model as it goes further than energy-related products, allowing it to be applicable to the broadest possible range of products and make it deliver on circularity.

The UK’s existing eco-design product standards focus on energy use and lack a clear plan to challenge the wider peril of planned obsolescence and to improve repairability and circularity.

NLWA will, later this year, publish a call to action. Cllr Loakes said: “Our call to action will champion strategies on waste for the UK government to embrace in its efforts to build back better and create a green industrial revolution, post pandemic.

“It will urge policy makers not to rest on their laurels once they feel they have dealt with packaging.

“It is, of course, imperative that the recyclability of packing is improved. That will go some way to reduce recycling contamination levels – currently costing north London taxpayers an estimated £2m per year.

“But without the introduction of compulsory recycling, accompanied by real powers for local authorities, we won’t see the progress on recycling rates that residents, local authorities and the environment so desperately need.

“In a time of climate emergency, putting the right thing in the right bin shouldn’t be voluntary, or optional.”

NLWA has been taking steps to make the city sustainable, hosting a Covid-friendly clothes exchange for North London residents and creating a ‘low plastic zone’ in the borough of Islington.

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