CURRENT ISSUES
Environment

Food production, storage and distribution have an unavoidable impact on the environment. FWD members seek to minimise this through initiatives that increase the efficiency of the supply chain, from the producer to the consumer.

Initiatives include: route optimisation technology; driver training; low carbon fuels; back hauling and recycling of waste and packaging; reducing packaging; recycling used cooking oil and reducing waste to landfill.

FWD is working closely with Government on its 25 year environment plan and other environmental policy proposals including those around using the tax system to tackle the use of single use plastics and other ways to tackle plastic waste.

Pressure had been growing for the Government to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme, which is intended to cut plastic, glass and metal drinks container waste by incentivizing consumers who return their drinks containers with a small cash sum.

The war on waste
Ones to watch

Packaging Recovery Notes (PRN)

The National Audit Office has published its review of the packaging recycling obligation system, including Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs). The report says the Government has no way to use the PRN system to incentivise companies to minimise packaging or make packaging easy to recycle and therefore it is unclear what value the system current has. 

Due to a lack of follow-ups by the Environment Agency, at least 4.5% of obligated companies may not register under the scheme

Businesses only pay £73million towards the cost of recycling their packaging, but local authorities spend £700million

There is a financial incentive for companies to fraudulently claim they have recycled packaging, particularly for plastic

The Environment Agency has low visibility and control over waste that is sold for recycling abroad and there is a risk that some of it is not recycled and is sent to landfill or littered

The Government has no evidence that the scheme has encouraged companies to minimise packaging or make it easy to recycle

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs does not know what value the scheme has added in its 20 years of operation.

The report suggests that the PRN system has evolved into “a comfortable way for Government to meet targets without facing up to the underlying recycling issues”. The Government is consultating on proposed reforms to the PRN system later this year which FWD will be responding to.

Plastic bottle Deposit Return Scheme

The Scottish Government has published a consultation on what a deposit return scheme would look like in Scotland. The consultation seeks views on what materials would be in scope and what level the de- posit should be set at. The consultation also seeks views on the locations where consumers should return their drinks containers, options include: dedicated drop off points, dedicated drop off points and some shops, or any place that sells drinks. Information can be found here: https://news.gov.scot/news/tackling- plastic-pollution

The UK Government will also consult on a DRS system for England and Wales in the autumn. FWD at- tended a meeting with Defra at which they outlined their emerging thinking on the consultation content. Two schemes are under consideration: an On the Go system and an All In system. The starting scope for the the DRS will be:

• PET, glass and metal
• Soft drinks and alcoholic drinks
• Possibly milk-based drinks
• No exemption for small producers

Under an On the Go system formats bought for away from home consumption (de ned by size of contain-er) would be in scope, avoiding a con ict with kerbside recycling. In an All In system, there would be no format or container size distinction and there would be wide return provision via reverse vending machinesand/or manual handling.

The consultation is due to launch in the autumn and FWD will continue to monitor developments.

Plastic

Earlier this year the government ran a call for evidence to explore how changes to the tax system or charges could be used to reduce the amount of single-use plastics wasted. It received 162,000 responses

There were a number of  suggestions on how best to reduce the amount of single-use plastics, and over the coming months the government plans to explore the following proposals in more depth:

  • Using tax to shift demand towards recycled plastic inputs.
  • Using tax to encourage items to be designed in a way that is easier to recycle.
  • Taxes or charges on specific plastic items that are commonly use on-the-go and littered, in order to encourage a reduction in production and use.
  • Using tax to ensure that the right incentives are in place to encourage greater recycling of waste that in currently incinerated.

At Budget 2018, the Chancellor will announce the policies that the Government will take forward, and, further consultation on the detail and design of those policies will follow the Budget.

The document also confirms that the Government’s new strategy on resources and waste will be published later this year, as will a consultation on the reform of the packaging waste regulations and a deposit return scheme.