Dear Under-Secretary of State,
I am writing to congratulate you on your recent appointment as Under-Secretary of State at the new Department for Business and Trade.
As Chair of North London Waste Authority, the UK’s second largest waste authority serving two million residents, I am also writing to say how much we welcomed the Government’s recent announcement that a Deposit Return Scheme for plastic bottles and cans at retail outlets will be introduced across England in 2025.
We greatly welcome too, as outlined by the Chancellor in the Budget, that the Government will legislate to simplify VAT for retailers on the deposits charged under the scheme whereby there will be no VAT on redeemed deposits.
We have long called for a Deposit Return Scheme as evidence shows that up to 90% of drink containers will be returned for recycling, as it builds awareness that these items are not ‘disposable’ but do in fact have value.
Currently, there is little incentive other than good citizenship for consumers to recycle plastic drinks bottles and cans with the dire consequence that these items are often littered, blighting our beautiful countryside as well as our towns and cities including many areas of north London. As the waste body responsible for disposing of rubbish and the collection of recycling, we see far too many soft drink bottles and cans ending up in bin-bag waste where they become too contaminated for sustainable and economical recycling.
So it was with some concern that we recently heard that the British Retail Consortium may have written to the Government about the scheme citing the ‘cost-of-living’ crisis. While we agree that it would be highly preferable if there is a consistent scheme across the UK, we do urge that implementation is not delayed in England. The long-term benefits of the scheme should remain the Government’s focus – the UK can surely have a system as good as or even better than the schemes which are successfully operating in countries such as Norway, Switzerland, and Germany.
We also noted that there may be some lobbying against the Government’s imminent implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). It is also crucial that the Government does not delay or water EPR down. EPR will help to significantly incentivise the use of less and more recyclable packaging to reduce that which is environmentally damaging and unsustainable. EPR will encourage producers to be innovative with the design of their packaging. It could be particularly beneficial for UK producers as more consumers begin to choose products with ecological, less wasteful packaging over others that are less so.
As the Local Government Association is urging, we would also encourage the Government to give local authorities a role in the design, implementation, and operation of both schemes.
Fundamentally, both the Deposit Return Scheme and Extended Producer Responsibility will greatly help towards the Government’s ambitious target for waste per capita be reduced by 50 percent by 2042.
I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your colleagues at the Department to discuss these topics in more detail. Please do get in touch.
Cllr Clyde Loakes
Chair, North London Waste Authority