Well that was January – and no sign of any of the big three consultations that were due to be released following the publication of the waste strategy (EPR, DRS and consistency). As they were expected before the end of January, this started to cause concern at LARAC HQ in the belief that DEFRA may then decide to shorten the consultation time allowed for responses, and instead of being the maximum 12 weeks, we may just have 8 weeks to form a reply. This would not give you, our members much time to formulate a response, nor for LARAC to gain views from our varied membership. So with this in mind, we wrote to DEFRA last week asking for their consideration in this matter. A link to the letter we sent is here. As soon as we get a response from them, we will circulate it to our members.
The introduction of DRS (Deposit Return Schemes) continues to be a concern for me, as I’m not convinced we will hit high recycling rates with such a system, and fear it will merely displace material already being recycled through our kerbside and bring bank collection systems. It’s been in the news recently that senior ministers are promising more money for increased recycling and to ensure councils are no worse off if a DRS is introduced. In one report, Lord Deben stated: “We don’t want a DRS to end up being a very expensive way of cannibalising the system that we already have.” Wise words which I am sure I have heard before? A LARAC release back in March 2018 also stated the same principal.
Last month I met with representatives from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Eunomia to talk about DRS and the report that Eunomia had carried out in 2017 and what LARAC’s views on DRS were. What we have said, and keep saying, is that we want more evidence before we should consider introducing a DRS, and LARAC has been working on a toolkit (with other organisations) that may hopefully do just that. We’re hoping to be able to give you more information shortly, once the toolkit is ready, so watch this space.
It was also interesting to see big numbers being quoted in the press from Iceland supermarket’s trial DRS – over 310,000 plastic bottles returned in six months in five locations. When you work out that there are around 25,000 plastic bottles in one tonne, then they recycled approximately 12 tonnes. In my one council we collected over 300 tonnes of plastic bottles in the same six-month period, at probably a fraction of the cost, and our kerbside collection system is a much more convenient system for householders to use. I hope the consultation due out soon (?) will give us an opportunity to look at the systems proposed more strategically and give us cost-effective schemes that actually will recycle more – it is what we want to do after all.