1 Producer Responsibility has been toughened up
The Environment Act 1995 allows for obligations to be placed on producers in relation to the re-use, recovery and recycling of products. These are already in place for four waste streams (including packaging waste). The bill will allow government to require producers to pay the full net cost of managing their products at end of life to incentivise them to design their products with sustainability in mind. The bill also clarifies that producer responsibility obligations can include prevention of waste and redistribution, making it clear that action can be taken on food waste.
2 A Deposit return scheme (DRS) will be launched
The bill allows for the introduction of deposit return schemes where consumers pay an up-front deposit when they buy an item (such as a drink in a bottle or can), which is then redeemed on return of the used item. The government, which consulted in spring on introducing a DRS, said these schemes can increase recycling and reuse, and reduce littering.
3 Resource efficiency standards will be implemented
Once in force, the Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products and Energy Information (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 will amend the Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products Regulations 2010 to allow for mandatory product standards to be set by the government for energy-related products. The bill complements these provisions by enabling resource efficiency standards to be set for non-energy-related products. The bill will also allow for clear labelling to enable consumers to identify products that are more durable, repairable and recyclable.
4 More charges on single-use plastics will be brought in
The Climate Change Act 2008 makes provision for charging for the supply of single-use carrier bags. According to government figures, the introduction of a 5p plastic bag charge in England in 2015 has resulted in a 90% decrease in plastic bag sales by main supermarket retailers. The bill allows for the introduction of charges for any single-use plastic item.
5 Consistent household collections will be mandated
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 underpins local authorities’ duty to collect household waste in England from domestic properties. Local Authorities however, do not all collect the same range of materials, which has caused confusion as to what can be recycled. The bill stipulates a consistent set of materials that must generally be collected individually separated from all households and businesses, including food waste.
6 Tougher rules on waste crime will be introduced
Illegal waste activity was estimated to have cost the English economy over £600 million in 2015. The government says the bill will help prevent waste crime by modernising the regulatory framework; deter waste crime by ensuring regulators can take effective enforcement action; and detect waste crime by allowing for electronic waste tracking.
7 Littering enforcement will be improved
The bill also contains measures to improve the proportionality and fairness of enforcement against littering, as part of the continued delivery of the Litter Strategy for England, which the government published in 2017.