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The Incpen approach to extended producer responsibility

Paul Vanston

In the past year I have moved from public service to the private sector. My 25 years of central and local government are all behind me – or are they?

In joining Incpen in May 2017 I hope to have brought the same values, ethics and principles that I have long-held as a public servant. Such qualities go to the heart of personal credibility, trust and having firm foundations on which to build collaborative progress.

I receive valuable guidance from Incpen’s respected membership including global brands Coca-Cola, Diageo, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Red Bull and Unilever; influential retailers Boots, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco; and manufacturing heavyweights Ardagh, Ball Packaging, Consol, Crown Packaging, Dow Europe, DS Smith, Huhtamaki, Linpac, RPC, U-flex and Warburtons.

A major reason why I accepted this new role was I had been working with companies that share principles-driven approaches to their businesses. There is very substantial business leadership on resource efficiency and sustainability right here in the UK that is worth celebrating.

What is well-known, but less well-celebrated, is that the UK has world-class waste management systems in place to tackle the vast majority of disposed items in the right ways. We can be proud of UK infrastructure.

Of course, more can be done to prevent ‘system leakage’ by reducing littering and fly-tipping. The UK should aim to get as close to zero as possible on ocean plastics, as just one area where we need to ‘shift the needle’.

When it comes to assisting abroad, the UK is well-able and well-placed to export skills, guidance and infrastructure to those nations that critically need waste management systems to be created or improved. Getting to grips with ocean plastics needs a huge effort abroad to make serious headway.

I was delighted the secretary of state recently asked WRAP and Incpen together to facilitate discussions across the packaging supply chain, local government, waste and resource management, and reprocessors. We will need to get down to the ‘hard yards’ on tackling greater recyclability, reducing the range of materials used in the fast moving consumer goods sector, improving on-the-go infrastructure and reform of the packaging recovery notes system.

“There is substantial business leadership on resource efficiency and sustainability right here in the uk that is worth celebrating.”

Much work is already taking place that can be pulled together, including black plastics recycling, polymer reductions, the WRAP consistency framework, the Scottish Recycling Charter and the Welsh Collections Blueprint, to name a few.

The Resources and Waste Strategy is planned for 2018. So, our cross-sector discussions need to start in good time, with genuine commitment and outcomes in mind.

For my part, I will do all I can, along with Marcus Gover at WRAP, to facilitate the best outcomes. I’m confident our cross-sector ‘sea changes’ will enable us to ‘see changes’.

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