Four ways forward for the UK’s packaging waste system after 2020 were put forward in a study today (27 June) for the Valpak compliance scheme.
On the agenda for discussion are proposals in ‘PackFlow 2025’, ranging from a “status quo PRN system” scenario to meet future recycling targets, through to a “full cost to industry” approach.
Unveiling the research work at the CIWM Resourcing the Future conference in London this morning, Valpak chief executive Steve Gough explained that “last year Valpak commissioned its external consulting team to have a look and see whether the future packaging targets are achievable, those coming over the hill and the Circular Economy package.”
The study, said Mr Gough, looked at systems in other countries in order to look at options for the design of a system going forward from 2020 as packaging waste recovery targets are currently in place to 2020. This included a look at what supporting measures are in place in other European countries and what are the costs for industry of changing the system. A steering committee with a broad membership including Defra helped steer the work.
In a note about the report, Valpak explained that the work reviewed systems and performance across Europe and consider whether targets were achievable and what learning can be taken from those EPR schemes. “It considers if the existing UK system could deliver both the interim and long term targets being proposed by the commission and what are its present strengths and weaknesses. And, it considers whether the system could benefit from enhancement or updating or whether it would require a totally different approach is required.”
Communication funds are put forward as major features of options two, three and four and if adopted could meet some of the concerns expressed in recent months over a lack of funding for work to promote recycling to the public.
Referring to the work of the report, Mr Gough said an aim was that by “looking at those countries and how they operated we would get a good feel for the various different systems across Europe, some have single schemes, some have competition. It was found that the UK has the highest de minimis level and we have some of the best enforcement processes.”
In terms of the results of the study, the Valpak chief executive explained that four potential models were suggested by the researchers. “One is to stay as we are. The next is an enhanced UK system, nationally managed with a flat fee for de minimis. The next suggestion is building on number two – including that we also levy an extra amount on producers that put materials on the market which are harder to meet the target. This is a non competitive issue, with bonuses for recyclability and recycled content.
“Model four, is full net costs – producers have to cover the whole process.” And responding to questions, Mr Gough explained that under model three, “credits can be given to organisations using material coming back, ie recycled”.
But highlighting the amount of goods coming into the UK, he suggested that there could be some problems of measuring recycled content accurately, especially of imported products although ‘simplistic’ measures could start the process off.
Nick Brown, head of sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners, who was also speaking at the CIWM event, agreed on this point and said such an approach would “set the direction of travel and we could see how it develops over time”.
In a statement on the report, Valpak commented: “Estimates of the likely costs to industry of each model have been developed in order to help the debate and the focus in all options has been to ensure that money should be spent in a way which is fair, effective and efficient in terms of delivering the Circular Economy targets and some of its wider objectives.”
The output is now publicly available on www.valpak.co.uk/PF2025. Valpak said it is hoped that this will help UK Government, devolved administrations and industry make decisions on how the UK packaging system might evolve and change to meet the future challenges.
(Note: The report was commissioned by Valpak and delivered independently by Valpak Consulting, in conjunction with Verde Consulting. The work has been wholly funded by Valpak and came from “a recognition that the European Circular Economy Package will be a significant challenge to achieve and that the existing system for delivering packaging targets through producer responsibility in the UK may need to change”.)
Source: letsrecycle.com Plastic