LARAC has welcomed the recent House of Commons Environment Audit Committee (EAC) report into disposable coffee cups that calls for much greater producer responsibility in the UK and the introduction of a levy that would fund council services. LARAC emphasised during the evidence it gave to the EAC the impacts on local authority street cleaning operations that coffee cups cause and the strain this places on already thin budgets. LARAC is therefore pleased that the EAC clearly state that funds from a levy are ploughed into on the go recycling infrastructure and communications. LARAC pointed out in its evidence, which the EAC agreed with, that coffee cups do not make their way to the home, so the focus needs to be on other avenues than the kerbside collections.
Lee Marshall, CEO LARAC, who gave evidence to the committee, said “the fact the Committee have reiterated my evidence that producer responsibility does not ‘pass the Ronseal test’ shows they strongly believe the producer responsibility system for packaging in the UK is long due an overhaul. The Committee clearly states in several parts of their report that local authorities are covering 90% of the costs of recovering packaging meaning that now is the time for fundamental change where producers fund councils for dealing with their products at end of use. Channelling funds from a levy into on the go recycling for councils is the start of a better producer responsibility agreement in the UK and should show the way for major reform of funding of council services.”
LARAC calls for the Government to seriously consider the recommendations and implement them in a manner that ensure producers are made much more responsible for the whole life of their products and fund councils properly. LARAC fears that funds raised from a levy could be lost given the history of the PRN system and producers avoiding funding councils in the UK, unlike other European countries where schemes are designed to ensure it is producers funding 90% of the costs and not 10% as in the UK.
LARAC is pleased that the Committee have quoted their CEO in the report, showing how valuable LARAC is to its members and how hard it is working to get the true message about local authority operations out to the wider industry and policy makers. Although coffee cups are a small component of the waste stream LARAC believes that the focus on it by the EAC could be the catalyst for much wider and urgently needed producer responsibility reform in the UK.
LARAC believes the EAC are right to call on Government to set a target for coffee cup recycling. LARAC supports this as means to drive better producer responsibility in the UK and shift the burden away from councils. As one of the owners of On Pack Recycling Label Ltd (OPRL) LARAC also strongly supports consistent and better messaging on coffee cups as proposed by the EAC to add consumer behaviour and knowledge.