The impact for businesses of the unveiled Resource and Waste Strategy
On 18th December 2018, DEFRA unveiled the long-awaited Resource & Waste Strategy.
In short, the new strategy means businesses and manufacturers will “pay the full cost” of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste in a move to overhaul England’s waste system.
It’s the first comprehensive update in over a decade and adds legal responsibilities on those producing environmentally damaging waste, or difficult to recycle materials, and making them pay for it.
Major packaging reforms
The strategy introduces the EPR system, which means Extended Producer Responsibility.
“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” is the core of the strategy, and CIWM agrees it provides a much-needed framework to reboot recycling and support progress towards a circular economy.
It also includes plans for separate household food waste collection and the introduction of a full nationwide deposit return scheme by 2024.
Through this, the strategy promises to create a consistent household recycling system and shift the cost of recycling on to producers. This means that there will be changes not just for businesses, but also for consumers.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Essentially, the strategy sets out a long-term blueprint for waste prevention, reuse, and recycling in the UK.
Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, says, “Our strategy sets out how we will go further and faster, to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Together we can move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society, to one that looks at waste as a valuable resource.
“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.”
So, what does this mean for businesses?
Here are six ways this strategy impacts UK businesses.
1. Full lifecycle approach
One of the prime focusses is building a truly circular economy, and therefore designing out waste as much as possible. This affects more than just the waste and recycling sectors – it impacts manufacturers, product designers, and procurement teams. Shifting from disposing and replacing to repairing is a huge change, particularly for electronics items.
2. Reduction in product ownership
New opportunities for consumer services are likely to emerge considering the increased focus on accessing services rather than ownership. This can be seen with things such as car hire, cloud services, and media streaming. This also feeds into “reuse” mentality.
3. Closing the loop
As part of the move to reuse and recycle more, steps are proposed to build the market to facilitate recovered materials getting back to manufacturers and making reprocessing viable. One recommendation is a trial data hub for manufacturers to source second-hand materials quickly and easily. An example of this could linking manufacturers with recycling facilities so recycled plastics are accessible as a raw material for production.
4. Producer responsibility – packaging waste
By making the producer pay the full cost to deal with their packaging they produce, there is a clear incentive for retailers and manufacturers to produce less waste in the first instance. Coupled with a nationwide deposit return scheme for bottles, cans, and disposable cups filled at source, massive shifts in the ways packaging is designed, produced, recycled and disposed of are on the horizon.
5. Food waste
With the rollout of household collections of food waste recommended, segregating food waste at home will become standard practice for people right across Britain, at home and at work. This is already happening in Scotland and Wales. Also, the publication of food waste figures by businesses will focus minds and increased transparency through
6. Improving consistency in recycling collections
The strategy also addresses one of the largest practical barriers to recycling; consistency in materials collected for recycling across the country. Regional-specific variations will be eradicated. This simplification will increase recycling and in turn enable more products to be designed to be recyclable. Whilst this will pose an immediate challenge to the recycling industry the long term benefits will be significant.