LARAC has responded to the announcement from DEFRA that it is moving forward with a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) with the release of the report on the previous call for evidence. LARAC states that the evidence gathered so far is inconclusive on the benefits of a DRS in the UK, as the report itself outlines. LARAC echoes the report’s findings that more work needs to be done ahead of any DRS being implemented in the UK and feels the announcement by DEFRA reads that a DRS is to be introduced rather than further exploring the concept as the working group suggest.
LARAC welcomes a DRS that focusses much needed attention on currently hard to recycle “materials on the go”, such as coffee cups, but raises concerns that seeking to capture drinks containers, for which comprehensive kerbside recycling schemes are already in place, may undermine the integrity of the services that local authorities have developed over many years and at great expense. LARAC supports the concept of an “on the go” system as this would mean that producers become more responsible for the products they create, a concept that LARAC points out is sorely missing in the current packaging regime.
Carole Taylor, Chair LARAC, said “LARAC supports full producer responsibility and DRS could be a step in that direction. The evidence so far for the UK has not shown how a general DRS can be undertaken without cannibalising council kerbside material. Local authorities provide comprehensive collection schemes for the materials that a DRS would target, and our first step should be to put funds into these from producers to increase kerbside performance even further. If the public really have an appetite for DRS then it needs to be one that targets on the go material and helps address the litter problem that local authorities spend £700 million each year dealing with, valuable funds that could be better utilised on other local services.”
LARAC is seeking assurances that the announcement of a possible DRS is being considered as part of the forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy due to be published this year and not in isolation. LARAC believes that the option of not having a DRS has to be a proper part of the consultation process and so LARAC is calling for an open and very thorough consultation. LARAC has stressed the need for a fully funded and comprehensive impact assessment on the implications of any DRS on current kerbside collection systems ahead of the consultation process. Without such an impact assessment LARAC has concerns any subsequent consultation will be flawed and could mean decreased income and efficiencies for councils already struggling with years of Government funding cuts.