Delays to waste reform are ‘stalling investment’, experts warn

Delays to the implementation of the Resources and Waste Strategy are ‘stalling investment’ and could ultimately lead the government to miss its legal waste deadlines, a trade body has warned.

Speaking at a media briefing at the Resource & Waste Management Expo in Birmingham yesterday, Lee Marshall, head of policy and external affairs at the the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), warned that because of uncertainty over timelines, local government is holding back investment, and this could ultimately mean that when the regulations do land, “there will be a dash for all of these services”. 

“There will be lots of local authorities that will be trying to buy bins, vehicles, etc and that could lead to a position where we are unable to achieve the deadlines the government has put in place,” he said. 

READ MORE: The waste target: Based purely on policies already in train?

Marshall also warned that the extended producer responsibility (EPR) delay is leading to further delays in other reforms, for example, he said that EPR for textiles and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) have “dropped off the radar”.

“[The delay] of these initial big ticket items is having a knock on effect," he said, highlighting that one of the only successes from the Resources and Waste Strategy is the Plastic Packaging Tax, “and that isn’t even DEFRA led, it’s Treasury led”.

Responding to a question by ENDS about whether the cost of living crisis could see further delays to waste reforms, as already seen with EPR and mandatory food waste reporting, Marshall said that this is likely, given it is a narrative that “probably does play well”. 

“From our point of view, yes we understand it and it is a valid reason, but equally, we are already seeing the impacts of climate change, there is almost never going to be a right time as well. We understand concerns, but if we don’t do it now when are we going to do it? And the later we do it, the worse the pain will be.”