We are in the midst of change, especially with the Resources and Waste Strategy consultation. But what are the elements of the consultation that will bring positive change to your business? Here we look at the benefits of a Deposit Return Scheme and how the Resources and Waste Strategy will impact businesses.
Return of the ‘money back' bottles and cans.
Some will remember taking bottles back to the shop to collect cash refunds. The system helped to reduce litter and encourage sustainable lifestyles before recycling became commonplace, but this died out in the 1980s following the introduction of cheaper materials for cans and bottles. Now the government is bringing deposit return schemes (DRS) back, offering deposit refunds on plastic bottles and aluminium cans as environmental concerns flood the headlines.
Impact on business and manufacturing
Under the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS), businesses and manufacturers will be expected to pay the full cost of recycling or disposing of their packaging waste. The strategy will overhaul our waste system, serving as a legal obligation for those producing plastic packaging to foot the bill for recycling and disposal, subject to consultation.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) will fund the increase in recycling as industry pays higher fees for products that are harder to recycle, reuse or repair and will encourage sustainable design, subject to consultation. EPR could raise up to £1 billion per year for recycling and disposal of plastic packaging waste, all at the cost of businesses and manufacturers. Britain fails to recycle 40% of plastic bottles because they aren’t put in the correct bin - that’s over 240,000 tonnes of bottles that businesses will be liable to pay for under new government guidelines.
UK-wide DRS are imperative if we want to round up the millions of discarded plastic bottles and aluminum cans and reduce the amount of plastic in our environment. Current waste infrastructure on the streets is inadequate, therefore DRS is a solution to cutting costs for local authorities and reducing litter. They have already demonstrated success in countries such as Germany and Scandinavia for many years - only 1-3% of non-reusable bottles are now not returned in Germany.
Compliance before it costs
Despite some limitations for businesses and manufacturers, the RWS can provide a real opportunity. Installing a DRS, for example, will boost profits from unclaimed bottle and cans as well as increasing storage capacity and reducing physical space taken up on site.
To get ahead of the RWS, manufacturers should review what packaging is necessary and consider the following changes: phasing more difficult to recycle materials, increasing the recycled content and in the long-term, redesigning packaging that use only easy to recycle materials. In addition to these changes, it is important that manufacturers and retailers actively boost recycling rates by encouraging recycling and behaviour change. Initiatives like this will save millions in material costs, future-proof businesses against new taxes and charges and prove to customers that companies are taking action to reduce plastic waste.
People are motivated to recycle and care about the environment. According to research carried out, 81% of people would go out of their way to deposit a bottle or can while on the go. The government is doing its bit to encourage businesses and manufacturers to take responsibility for packaging waste but it’s important for businesses to take the initiative to be more sustainable and empower the community.
EPR could raise up to £1 billion per year for recycling and disposal of plastic packaging waste.
Britain fails to recycle 40% of plastic bottles because they aren’t put in the correct bin
81% of people would go out of their way to deposit a bottle or can while on the go.
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