How would the UK government’s planned resources and waste strategy affect your business?
The UK government has ambitious plans to change the way England deals with business waste, moving towards a circular economy.
Its proposed Resources and Waste Strategy for England aims to bring the country into line with what’s already been happening in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
If this strategy is implemented, businesses and households will need to reduce the amount of resources used, recycle more, and re-use them wherever possible. The amount of business waste must be reduced, and innovative, creative methods need to be employed to achieve that.
Alongside that, there is the principle that the ‘polluter pays’. In other words, manufacturers and producers will bear more of the burden for dealing with waste they create.
The strategy also puts forward legal and financial incentives for businesses to do the right thing, and it says there will be better information about waste reduction and better recycling infrastructure.
What are the aims of the government’s strategy?
The government’s proposed strategy aims to eliminate avoidable waste by 2050 and work towards a doubling of productivity when using resources.
It looks at eight areas:
- How resources are managed and recovered
- Changing consumer behaviour
- Dealing with waste crime
- Cutting out food waste
- Making production sustainable
- Promoting research and innovation
- Measuring progress
- What Britain’s role will be globally
What will you need to do about your business waste?
The proposed strategy is out for consultation. If the plan is adopted, you will need to review your business’s current waste and recycling arrangements to see if they match the strategy.
Simply having general business waste collections won’t be enough to comply with it. As a minimum requirement, you’ll need to make sure you have a food waste recycling service and a dry mixed recycling service in place.
You’ll also need to separate difficult to recycle waste from the other recycling so that loads are not spoiled by it.
The drinks industry would see a deposit return scheme for containers of drinks on the go such as bottled water and coffee. The government says its studies have shown this could boost recycling rates in this sector by 20%.
For retailers, this means looking at how you would deal with deposits in till operations. For manufacturers, there are the issues of storing returned bottles and cups and processing them.
The strategy aims to increase the packaging waste recycling rate to 70% by making packaging producers financially responsible for dealing with it, giving local authorities a useful new source of funding.
Businesses would also be encouraged to ensure their plastics were recyclable thanks to a tax on plastic packaging which is composed of less than 30% recyclable materials, the strategy says.