Businesses to be charged for environmental costs of packaging

It is hoped the Extended Producer Responsibility will tackle excess packaging and boost recycling rates.

Businesses to pay environmental cost of hard to recycle packaging under Government plans iStock

Businesses are set to be charged for the packaging of their products depending on how difficult to recycle it is.

Plans shared by the Scottish Government following a UK-wide consultation set out reforms to tackle excess packaging and boost recycling rates.

The Extended Producer Responsibility will require producers across the country to take responsibility for the waste created by their products.

A report on the scheme estimates producers will be charged around £1.7bn each year to cover the costs of managing household waste across the UK.

Household waste currently costs the British taxpayer around £1.2bn every year.

Under the plans fees will be weighted, and producers will be required to pay more for packaging that is harder to reuse or recycle.

The cash generated will go towards improving local recycling collections from households.

The Scottish Government hopes the reforms encourage businesses to use less packaging and make sure what they do use is either recyclable or reusable.

Coffee shops, fast food chains, and other businesses that sell drinks in disposable paper cups will be required to provide a dedicated bin to collect and recycle these from under the new bill.

The Extended Producer Responsibility will come into force from 2024.

Circular economy minister Lorna Slater said: “Too many products still come wrapped in unnecessary or hard to recycle packaging, much of which ends up in landfill or incineration.

“Pricing in the environmental costs of packaging will encourage businesses to either use less or make the switch to more sustainable alternatives.

“Not only will this reduce waste and emissions, it will also help cut the amount of packaging littering our streets, parks, and beaches.

“We know people want to do the right thing with waste in their homes, but still find it tricky to know what can be recycled, so all packaging will also have standardised recycling labels.

“This will make it easier for people to recycle packaging correctly.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “These reforms have enormous potential to help drive the circular economy in Scotland and lead to a more sustainable approach to packaging where it is required.

“With more than 12 million tonnes of packaging waste produced in the UK every year, a substantial proportion of which ends up in landfill, it’s hugely important we take action to maximise the value of packaging by reusing and recycling it effectively, and to reduce unnecessary packaging altogether.”

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