Local authority leaders have welcomed plans to ‘overhaul’ the waste system, but cautioned Whitehall that any reforms need to be fully funded.
The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs has launched a consultation on plans to reform the system by which waste is collected and sorted, cut plastic pollution, and move towards a more circular economy.
The consultation outlines plans to make businesses and manufacturers pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste. It also seeks to ensure there are a consistent set of recyclable materials.
It also includes proposals for separate weekly food waste collections for every household in England and free garden waste collections for households with gardens.
At the same time, the Government is seeking views on introducing a Deposit Return Scheme for cans and bottles which it hopes will lead to the recycling of the three billion plastic bottles which are currently incinerated or sent to landfill.
Defra is also consulting on plans to introduce a tax on plastic packaging which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content.
‘We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste. That’s why we are leading the way to move away from being a “throw-away” society and drive up domestic recycling,’ said environment secretary Michael Gove.
‘Through our plans we will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling.’
Responding to the consultation launch, Cllr Martin Tett, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: ‘The LGA has long called for producers to cover the full cost of recycling and disposing of their packaging, and we are pleased the Government has listened to councils and outlined plans to do this.
‘Councils are playing their part when it comes to improving recycling rates with our waste collection services diverting millions of tonnes of waste from landfill every year.
‘But we recognise that by working with government, there is more to be done to boost recycling to reach national targets and even higher standards.’
‘We are clear however that any changes to waste services and additional cost burdens on councils, who are already under enormous financial pressure, need to be fully funded,’ Cllr Tett added.