It’s a month since my last piece, which was written before the general election. The outcome of that was obviously determined by policy areas other than waste. But we do now know the direction of travel for waste policy in England. The path started on with the Resource and Waste Strategy will be continued and this year will see a lot more activity on it.
DEFRA has already started forming stakeholder groups on DRS and consistency and one on EPR will not be far away. These are likely to be used by DEFRA to test the details of consistency, DRS and EPR ahead of the next round of consultations. These consultations will start to get into the nitty gritty of how these policy areas will be implemented and as such are not only important but are likely to see parts of the industry disagree with each other, maybe strongly. LARAC will be part of these groups providing a local authority voice and working hard on your behalf.
There are no timetables yet for when the next set of consultations will come out, latest estimates are the summer. As with the consultations last year LARAC will do all it can to assist you with information when they first come out and then, through the process to inform your responses. The feedback from the process we undertook last year was very positive and you said that the briefing papers were very useful for internal use, the workshops really helped you and the provision of a draft response from us was also something that was valued and used. We haven’t planned it all out yet but given what we did worked well last time I can see something similar happening next time round.
This year will also see LARAC look inwards a bit and review the resources we have and the resources we think we need in the future to ensure we keep delivering the services you want and need. We also want to ensure that we can improve the services we already provide and enhance our policy capability further to make sure we can represent local authorities to industry and Government as best as we possibly can. This, in itself, will be a big piece of work for what is a small organisation, but if we don’t continue to evolve, we cannot be as effective as we need to be.
So, whilst we have a fair idea of what the year will bring the actual detail is still uncertain. It will make for an exciting time, but also one of work hard for LARAC to ensure local authorities get a waste policy that really makes a positive step change in resource management. My view is the key will be ensuring we maximise EPR funding whilst keeping some flexibility within consistency for good local management and choice. There is going to BE compromise ahead at some point and hopefully others in the industry will take the sort of approach that LARAC does and be willing to listen and understand our concerns.
With the amounts of money involved there will no doubt be tensions at times. But we are all living through and determining the biggest changes in UK waste policy since the Environmental Protection Action 1990. That means we need to work hard to get as much of it right and fit for purpose as we can.
Your support and engagement with LARAC were invaluable in 2019 and I hope we have that again in 2020. There is a value in being a member of LARAC, for what it can help you with and how we can work on your behalf.