Ecoveritas calls on UK government to ‘stay the course’ on waste reforms
Leading environmental compliance data specialist Ecoveritas has urged the UK government to stay the course regarding the protracted Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy reforms.
With this current impasse caused by a swirling fog of unanswered questions – consistency of collections still not published, EPR fees still not available, a scheme administrator still yet to be appointed, and rising doubts over timescales – Ecoveritas claims there is a distinct lack of confidence that the plan can move out of the current stall it appears to be in.
EPR is due to be rolled out in 2024, with producers already gathering data on packaging ready for payments. Defra assures its commitment to working closely with industry stakeholders while finalising the EPR scheme's design and delivery plans.
Ecoveritas’ call follows The Telegraph reporting last week that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been discussing potential delays to the scheme with ministers due to the ongoing cost of living crisis.
‘EPR should be a shining beacon,’ said Ecoveritas' chief strategy officer Andrew McCaffery. ‘Instead, we seem to be caught in a downward spiral of negativity, and you get that sense of déjà vu regarding proposed positive recycling and waste policy changes stalling.
‘More recently, EPR’s rollout has been plagued by lobbying from producer associations calling for an urgent reconsideration. Admittedly, there is very little new information about the future, which is hugely frustrating for those who have worked hard. Still, concerns around cost of living and inflation targets were highlighted from the start.
‘If the policy is good for the planet and the environment, we need the willpower to implement it, even when it is not universally popular. We must move away from the status quo and this inherent predisposition towards pessimism. We are completely misjudging the power of the consumer in all of this. When you contrast the industry's position with the urgency of the climate crisis, these are damaging actions.
‘If EPR is to be delayed, let us be honest and transparent about it with businesses who have put time, energy and resources into initiatives, all of which has a cost. Right now, we need something we have sorely missed from the very start: certainty and stability.’
Since January 2023, organisations have been required to collect data on their packaging to comply with EPR, with fees payable to the environmental regulator from 2024.
‘The good news is that the data reporting legislation has become law, so at least the governments can begin to more accurately assess the amount of packaging placed onto the market in 2023 before introducing new fees.
‘Our focus is helping businesses get their data ready. Businesses have already put time, energy, and resources into preparing. We urge the government to decide quickly and not leave the industry wondering. And if they change tack, they need to make sure it's realistic and give producers all the information they need – and resist continuously changing it.’