LARAC has welcomed elements of the recent House of Commons Environment Audit Committee report into single use packaging that calls for much greater producer responsibility in the UK, but is dismayed at the recommendation that a DRS for PET bottles is considered by the Government. LARAC strongly pointed out during the evidence it gave to the EAC that the impacts on local authority collection schemes has been overstated and very lightly researched up to now and requires and in-depth investigation before proper conclusions on effectivity can be drawn. LARAC highlights that a system for PET bottles means that kerbside schemes will still have vast amounts of HDPE bottles to pick up meaning vehicle reconfiguration and round efficiencies will be impossible to achieve leaving local authorities losing valuable income that will compound years of budget cuts.
Lee Marshall, CEO LARAC, who gave evidence to the committee, said “the fact the Committee agreed with my evidence that producer responsibility does not ‘pass the Ronseal test’ is pleasing and shows that 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 which demonstrates beyond doubt that the PRN system is fundamentally broken in regard of true producer responsibility.”
LARAC calls for the Government to consider carefully the proposal for a DRS system that would cut across the kerbside schemes of local authorities and have a negative impact for council budgets. LARAC urges the Government instead to look at how producers can properly fund and increase rapidly the on the go collection infrastructure that would help ease the burden that litter places on local authority budgets.
LARAC is pleased that the Committee have quoted their CEO several times 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. LARAC has been battling to get better cost recovery from producers of packaging in the UK and while DRS is potentially a way of doing that it should not be to the detriment of local authorities.
If a DRS is to be implemented in the UK LARAC states it needs to be at least cost neutral to councils and should not be an excuse for producers not to fund councils for collecting the raft of other packaging material outside PET for which councils have worked hard to develop efficient collections over the years.