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Comments From Our Experts: The Government's Resource and Waste Strategy Proposal

The issue of the Government's long-awaited Resource and Waste Strategy proposal was a surprise. Much of the contents were as widely expected, especially the inclusion of DRS.

The contents will need further scrutiny from the industry, but initial reaction around the trade was probably best summed up by Dick Searle’s (Packaging Federation) comment that ‘the Devil is in the Detail’, with the strategy posing more questions than answers.

A key principle under EPR is that the ‘Polluter pays’ - should this be the ‘Producer pays’? Retailers, supermarkets, manufacturers and brand owners look set to be hit with substantial bills for causing litter but strangely this doesn’t appear to include the consumer. Does litter throw itself away?

Yesterday's report offers that 'Plastic is everywhere, for good reason’. Yet as plastic packaging is vilified, another update yesterday cited a new US and Canadian study into the environmental effects of plastics - it concluded that 'plastics were more sustainable than the alternatives, and replacing plastics with alternative materials such as paper and paperboard, glass, steel, aluminium, textiles, rubber and cork would result in significant net negative environmental impacts'. (Source: ACC, Nov 2018). Of course, any material can be littered, but we hope that future legislation will give the industry a sensible and rounded direction on which materials we should be using.

The report recognises the Pareto principle that '80% of the damage done to the environment from waste products can be avoided if more thoughtful decisions – about their design, the choice of materials and chemicals used, and how they will be distributed and sold to consumers – are made at the production stage. This is why it is so important to prevent waste occurring in the first place, as well as manage it better when it does'. We firmly believe that designing out waste before it happens is crucial to the success of this strategy.

Consumers should be able to make an informed choice of environmental impacts before buying packaged products, not just at end of life, and the industry must work towards a system that provides that information.

Read the Government's Resources and Waste Strategy Proposal here 👇

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