The Government response to Committee report on the Implications of the Waste Strategy for Local Authorities

LARAC’s role in the process
LARAC’s evidence to this enquiry was given in both written and in person at the select committee hearing back in June and is quoted in the evidence they presented to government last September.  Our initial plea at the committee hearing was for closer consultations with local authorities.   Concerning ‘what waste is collected vs how it is collected’, we pointed out that the importance was in everyone having access to recycling the same materials, and that doesn’t have to happen in exactly the same way in each authority. On the issue of standardisation: we stressed the importance of flexibility for councils to provide differing waste services according to local factors concerning geography, demographics, waste composition and the availability and location of appropriate infrastructure.  On the provision of weekly food waste collections, we also raised our concern that there should be adequate funding to local authorities to provide food waste recycling services.   On the Government recommendation for alternate weekly residual waste collections, LARAC pointed out that existing three-weekly collections demonstrate financial and behavioural change benefits resulting in increased recycling and waste minimisation.  We also argued for the ‘on-the-go’ system of DRS pointing out that it would capture more of what is not presented for recycling and the kerbside rather than robbing the local authorities of material they currently capture. We also suggested that DRS should be deferred until further evidence of its efficacy is gained.  On the subject of EPR we supported monitoring every two years, to make sure that LA funding was sufficient.   Our written evidence supported these contributions and went into more detail.

In the government's response to the committee report and referring to the points made above, the following can be pulled out:

Consultation

  • In light of the committee’s comments we will review arrangements to engage with the LGA and local government representatives to ensure they are fully consulted on the development and implementation of proposals.”

Standardisation

  • The government has been clear that we believe local authorities are best placed to understand their local circumstances. Having said that, local authorities will be required to collect glass, metal, plastic, paper and card, food waste and garden waste for recycling, as set out in the Environment Bill.”

Food waste

  • “The government notes the Committee’s views on separate food waste collection. The government believes that the first step in reducing food waste should be prevention and has supported measures to reduce food waste in the home and in the supply chain for many years. However there will always be some level of unavoidable food waste which if not collected separately would potentially go to landfill or otherwise be lost from the opportunity to recycle usefully through either anaerobic digestion or composting.

  • Our analysis shows that if all local authorities provided at least kerbside properties with a separate food waste collection service, this would increase the amount of food waste collected by 1.35 million tonnes by 2029 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 1.25 million tonnes a year.

  • We therefore believe that there is indeed a strong case for separate collection of food waste for treatment through anaerobic digestion. This supports other government policies to decarbonise energy production and to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

  • Councils will get access to £2.9bn of extra funding available to them in 2020/21 for core services, including waste services and also measures to support recycling reward schemes. Not all local authorities provide the same level of service or collect the same range of materials.

  • Decisions on frequency of collection are rightly for local authorities to make and we do not propose to dictate this centrally

  • The government notes the comments received by the committee regarding the provision of free garden waste collections. We also note the Committee’s recommendation that government should not require local authorities to implement free garden waste collection services. ”

Plastics

  • “To further stimulate the secondary markets for recycled plastics the Chancellor announced, in the 2018 Budget, a tax on plastic packaging placed on the market with less than 30% recycled content. It is proposed that this will take effect from April 2022.”

DRS

  • “The government notes the Committee’s comments made regarding the introduction of a deposit return scheme (DRS) and also their recommendation that implementation should be deferred. The government remains minded to introduce a deposit return scheme for drinks containers from 2023, subject to further evidence and analysis. We have committed to reviewing the inclusion of drinks containers up to 3L in volume.

  • Our ambition would be to introduce a DRS earlier if feasible; we want a timetable that is bold but realistic, implementing an effective, cost-efficient scheme that works coherently across the UK. We consulted with the Welsh government and on behalf of Northern Ireland. Scottish government consulted in 2018 and announced final proposals for a DRS for Scotland in early May 2019. We will continue to work with the devolved administrations to accomplish a coherent UK-wide approach.

  • Defra are considering two options for a DRS relating to size of containers. An ‘all in’ DRS would include drinks container of any size. An ‘on the go’ DRS would include drinks containers smaller than 750mls and would exclude multipacks. We will consult again on a DRS in 2020, and set out whether this will be an ‘all in’ or an ‘onthego’ scheme.

  • We recognise the concerns raised by local authorities that some of the material local authorities currently collect will be diverted to a deposit return scheme for drinks containers. However, under the reformed packaging producer responsibility system, packaging producers will be responsible for the costs of dealing with the packaging waste they produce.”

EPR Funding

  • “We welcome that the Committee is supportive of the government’s proposals for introducing an extended producer responsibility scheme for packaging. In the summary of responses to the consultation published on 23 July 2019 we stated that we would be undertaking further work to determine the basis for allocating producer funding to local authorities and how this funding would be distributed.”

  • “The government agrees, and made clear in the consultation document that we expect the process of raising costs from producers and allocating funding to local authorities to be transparent and fair to both local authorities and to producers.”

Recycling Infrastructure

  • “Through the Resources and Waste Strategy the government has committed to taking actions which will help stimulate private investment in reprocessing and recycling infrastructure. We want to significantly increase UK capacity by both increasing investors’ confidence and improving the competitiveness of UK reprocessing through:

  • Providing a large and stable supply of recyclable waste materials;

  • Increasing the quality of the waste materials to be recycled;

  • Improving demand for recycled materials and market stability;

  • Levelling the playing field for UK reprocessors—through increased monitoring and enforcement of exports.”

The Full Government Response

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