Ecoveritas has urged caution in response to the latest raft of policy changes announced in a speech by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday.
Amid a raft of U-turns on environmental targets and Net Zero commitments, the PM caused concern in the recycling sector by appearing to announce the government had scrapped plans to provide consumers with seven bins to separate different categories of waste, widely assumed to mean consistent collection legislation. However, Kathy Illingworth, Head of Sustainability & Consulting at Ecoveritas has urged the industry to wait for further details from Defra.
“This is little more than political sleight-of-hand that – at present – does not materially affect recycling proposals,” he said. “The proposal to force everyone to have seven bins was never seriously on the table anyway, so the Prime Minister has seemingly ‘scrapped’ a policy that did not exist.
“The only thing that has noticeably changed at the moment is the name of the scheme, which is now referred to as ‘simpler recycling’. Beyond that, we will have to wait for Defra to add more detail to this announcement.”
Illingworth went on to join those criticising the reasoning behind the decision, which was reportedly driven by a desire to drive a “green wedge” between the Conservative government and its opposition parties.
“It’s disappointing to see the concept of recycling used as a windmill to tilt at – an example of heavy-handed big government that never really existed in the first place,” Illingworth continued. “We sorely need to build a consensus on this issue, and turning it into a political wedge issue risks toxifying what could be productive debates around the future of recycling.
“Businesses need certainty. Between this announcement and confusion over the EPR rollout, it’s hard to have confidence in any environmental policy at the moment. EPR has been like a game of political pass the parcel, and each time the music has stopped, it has been nigh on impossible to fathom exactly who’s holding it.
“Data collection is still the only way to make sense out of packaging and packaging waste. Learning is just the first step on the journey to understanding the flow of packaging through the UK. And Ecoveritas remains on hand to support businesses through the increasingly tricky landscape of packaging and packaging waste data, as once again it has been left to businesses to grasp this issue by the horns and lead the way.”