Last reviewed 7 April 2021

The Government has announced “landmark reforms” to reform the waste resources sector and boost recycling.

Ministers have unveiled plans for three major reforms to UK waste and resources legislature. The plans affect households and businesses across the whole of the UK and are designed to support the government’s Environment Bill to incentivise recycling at every stage in the supply chain.

The proposals include a commitment to a nationwide Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system. EPR will obligate packaging producers to pay for any and all costs associated with the recycling and disposal of packaging waste when it is implemented in 2023.

Outlining the plan Environment Secretary George Eustice said: These new changes will further ensure that more of what we consume is recycled and reused. They will stimulate the creation of alternatives to single-use plastics and establish consistent rules to help people recycle more easily across the country.

A similar scheme in Scotland is already planned to go live in 2022, which will be keenly watched by other devolved governments to assess its success and take-up rate. Roseanna Cunningham, Scotland’s Environment and Climate Change Secretary, said: “The Extended Producer Responsibility scheme will help encourage more sustainable packaging design, promote reuse and recycling, and require producers to be part of the solution to dealing with materials at the end of their life.”

EPS will reward producers opting to use easily recyclable packaging and penalise those who continue to use hard-to-recycle packaging materials such as black plastic or polystyrene. But companies are expecting the scheme to go beyond simple packaging. Environment minister, Rebecca Pow, has warned tobacco companies that, under new EPR rules, manufacturers will also face the costs of cleaning up cigarette litter.

“We must all take action to protect our environment. That is why we are exploring how cigarette companies can be held fully accountable for the unsightly scourge of litter created by their products,” Pow said.

A Deposit Return Scheme, which will target drinks containers, will also requires consumers to pay a small deposit when purchasing drinks in disposable containers, such as cans and one-use plastic bottles, and they get the deposit back after returning the empty container.

Proposals for more consistent recycling collection for all UK households and businesses are also being considered.

For more information on the Environment Bill, click here.