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Government’s EPR response grounds for cautious optimism, but delays stymieing investment says ADEPT

29 March 2022

The publication of the government’s response to its Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging consultation has provided clarity but there are still ongoing concerns, according to the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT).

Although it has broadly welcomed the governments approach to EPR, published on the 26th March, the Association has several concerns around the ongoing delays to the proposed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) and the Consistency in Recycling Policy. 

It is also concerned that local authorities cannot bear any further additional costs to implement new schemes and would like to see far more clarity on how these are to be funded.

Steve Read, Chair of ADEPT’s Environment Board said: “We urge Defra to release the response to the DRS and Consistency in Household and Business Recycling consultations as soon after the local government elections in May as possible. This is stymieing investment in both collection and processing infrastructure.”

ADEPT has welcomed government recognition of the different circumstances local authorities have to consider in their approach to waste management. Rurality, geography and deprivation can all impact on volumes as well as efficiency and effectiveness of recycling. 

The creation of a new Scheme Administrator from within the public sector has also received a positive response from ADEPT. The Association believes this will assist transparency and fairness, as will EPR payments to both waste collection authorities and waste disposal authorities, where the two tier system operates.

The Association is pleased to see that the EPR proposals will support local authorities in the collection of plastic film and flexible packaging from 2027, but is disappointed that the initial implementation of EPR will come in 2024, rather than 2023 as originally proposed.

Steve Palfrey, Chair of ADEPT’s Waste Group said: “While ADEPT largely support the government's approach to EPR, we have a number of concerns with the indicated approach to consistency in recycling collections and the introduction of DRS. 

“The response suggests that there may not be additional ongoing revenue funding for the new duties around consistency of collection, and that EPR payments will be used to subsidise wider household waste collections, rather than providing new funding to support the collection of packaging and for service development.

“Furthermore, while we welcome the fact that glass collections will be outside the remit of DRS in England and Wales, we are still waiting for enough detail to understand what this will look like. ADEPT remains concerned that a DRS is an expensive way to make marginal improvements in recovery rates for plastic bottles and cans.”