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Manufacturers to pay recycling costs in bid to stop waste

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Manufacturers will pick up the burden of paying for recycling under new government plans which hope to cut down on waste going to landfill.

Currently councils pay 90% of the bill for recycling, but if a new strategy gets the green light this will go to the product manufacturers, forcing them to think about sustainable packaging.

Producers will have to pay the full net cost of disposing or recycling the packaging, with money going to councils to help them improve waste and recycling systems.

The industry will have to pay more if products are harder to reuse or recycle, and the environment department (Defra) hopes this will encourage more sustainable design.

Only a third of the plastic in packaging pots and trays for food bought by households can be recycled
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Only a third of the plastic in packaging pots and trays for food bought by households can be recycled

It could raise between £500m and £1bn per year to aid recycling and the disposal of rubbish.

The plans also include a commitment for weekly food waste collections in every home, and clearer labelling on packaging to show if it can be recycled.

That runs alongside proposals for a deposit return scheme – announced by Environment Secretary Michael Gove earlier this year – which was a major victory for the Sky Ocean Rescue campaign.

Such schemes usually involve customers paying a small fee on top of the cost of a drink, which is then returned when they bring back the bottle.

Figures on household recycling in England show rates have flat-lined in recent years.

The new proposals will mean more consistent recycling schemes across councils all over the country and should result in a reduction in the amount of recyclable waste that ends up in the wrong bin.

Michael Gove in Downing Street
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Michael Gove said the proposals would increase the amount of recycling in the UK

Mr Gove said: “We really need to shift the dial on recycling and our strategy will help make that happen.

“We’ll make sure producers pay more in order to use the material that goes to generate all this waste.

“And we will use that money to ensure that across every local authority, we’ve got a more consistent approach to recycling that will help citizens know exactly what they should put in which bin.”

In addition to the plans outlined, Defra has also mooted the potential return of free garden waste collections, which many households have lost in recent years due to council spending cuts.



Thousands cleaned beaches across the UK this weekend.




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Thousands clear plastic from beaches across UK

Environmental campaigners have welcomed the intervention from government, but are concerned by the fact that the plans – to be approved following consultation in the new year – will not enter law until 2023.

Dr Lyndsey Dodds, head of UK marine policy at WWF, said: “It is great that the government is making recycling easier and that they are finally asking producers to pay the cost. But that alone won’t cure our plastic plague.

“We must reduce the amount produced and used. We need the government to follow through on this strategy with strong and urgent action to turn the tide on plastic – before it is too late.”

Louise Edge, from Greenpeace UK, added: “The really encouraging part of these proposals are the plans to ensure that companies who create and sell plastic packaging will at last pay for dealing with the consequences.

“This should be a big help in getting difficult to recycle and expensive plastic packaging off our supermarket shelves, driving better product design and much needed investment in refillable and reusable packaging.

Martin Tett, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, warned that existing contracts councils with waste collection companies means some may not be able to implement the changes until later.

:: Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at skyoceanrescue.com

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