Plans to introduce separate food waste collections to every household in England by 2023 and ensure producers pay for the costs of managing their waste packaging have been included in the long-awaited Resources and Waste Strategy, released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) this morning (18 December).
Beyond the introduction of separate food waste collections – which are subject to consultation – the strategy also outlines the government’s intention to invoke the ‘polluter pays’ principle and extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging to ensure producers pay the full net costs of managing packaging waste at the end of its life, bringing the UK in line with the approach taken already by many European countries including France and Germany.
The Strategy also supported the introduction of a plastics tax for all packaging that contains less than 30 per cent recycled content from 2022 subject to consultation, as announced in the Autumn Statement, in order to stimulate demand for recycled materials in the UK. It also aims at banning problematic plastic products where alternatives exist. The government has already imposed a ban on the sale of microbeads and is consulting on banning plastic drinking straws, stirrers and cotton buds, though it insists that its focus remains on helping consumers and companies make the right choice rather than banning products.
The introduction of a DRS for single-use drinks containers in England to capture a significantly higher proportion of the 14 billion single-use plastic drinks bottles used every year in the UK by 2023, subject to consultation, is also a key part of the Strategy. Defra will continue discussions with the devolved governments to introduce a UK-wide system. However for the coffee industry, the strategy also announced that this will include displsable paper cups.
The British Coffee Association welcomes the Resources & Waste Strategy and the important initiatives it sets out in driving the principles of reducing, reusing, and recycling waste in the UK. We support the decision to consider the inclusion of disposable coffee cups within a deposit return scheme as a way of improving infrastructure around these recyclable materials. As noted by both the Strategy and recently by the Chancellor during the Autumn Budget, the coffee industry has been working hard to help improve the capturing of disposable cups so that they can be recycled. The UK coffee industry is fully committed to working towards sustainability goals including achieving zero waste by 2025, with 100% recyclable or re-usable packaging across all products, and 0% of waste going to landfill.