Packaging recycling targets are still “in train” but are “very close” to being announced, Defra head of producer responsibility Judicaelle Hammond reassured delegates at a conference on packaging yesterday (30 September).
In her talk at the ‘Fresh Horizons for Packaging Waste’ conference, she explained what Defra was looking at in the waste policy review.
“We know businesses are very keen on having them [packaging targets] as soon as possible but we are doing our very best. There are the logistics of getting some of the ministers physically present, so please bear with us. It is in train.”
She explained that the definition of a “zero waste” economy, which is one the ‘new aims’, is still being defined to some extent as part of the review. “A zero waste economy goes hand- in-hand with another aim, which is promoting a green economy which is of part significance and interest for our colleagues at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills… We have come far with diverting waste from landfill but the question is: how much further can we go?” Hammond said.
Responding to a question about whether Defra is looking into the ‘missing packaging’ not included in the obligation targets due to either loop holes in the regulations or because companies do not know they are obligated, Hammond revealed that the advisory committee for packaging (ACP) is currently looking into this issue. But in a Government document leaked to the Daily Telegraph on 23 September, the ACP was on a list of quangos that may be cut. Hammond said the results of this research would likely come out next year.
Of the ‘new approach’ to waste policy Hammond explained: “The concept of the ‘big society’ is a new one for us, as policy makers, and in the context of waste it means a greater variety of people taking responsibility and taking action. It’s about creating a new public awareness about waste. And there is a question that underlies the whole waste review, which is: who is the best person to take action?”
Hammond revealed Defra was also looking at each level of the waste hierarchy, with ‘reuse’ now being referred to as ‘preparing for reuse’. Reuse is being defined by Defra as items that are not ‘waste’ that are being reused. For example, a piece of clothing put in a local authority waste collection is deemed as being discarded. Ifthis is then cleaned or repaired to be reworn, this is now classed as ‘preparing for reuse’.