Unwillingness by the Government to switch responsibility for paying for clearing litter from local authorities to waste producers has been criticised by the Environmental Services Association (ESA).
It labels the new litter strategy, published on 10 April, as a missed opportunity which could have provided much-needed resources to straitened councils.
Consultation is now underway on proposed penalties for environmental offences, part of a wide-ranging approach on which MRW has already reported.
The strategy is a joint document from Defra and the transport and communities departments.
ESA executive director Jacob Hayler (pictured) acknowledged that there were proposals which could have a positive impact on litter but said there was uncertainty as to how the proposals will be funded.
“We think the strategy has missed an opportunity to highlight in more detail the important role that extended producer responsibility schemes could play.
“Our policy paper last year The Role of Extended Producer Responsibility in Tackling Litter in the UK highlighted that transferring the cost of preventing and clearing up some of the most littered items in the UK such as cigarettes and chewing gum alone could save local authorities in the region of £300m each year in clean-up costs.
“Introducing producer responsibility levies on the manufacturers of some of these most frequently littered items would free up resources to cover both enforcement and litter clean-up costs as well as to fund anti-litter campaigns,” he said.
The Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) welcomed the strategy but argued that funding from business should not come with any blame attached.
“Bearing in mind that, by 2020, councils will retain business rates revenue, there will be many retailers who feel the recent increase in business rates should be used towards the litter innovation fund,” the FPA said.
“A number of items, including foodservice packaging, are singled out … but all littered items are problematical, and actions should focus on all litter and not just selected items.”
The FPA fears a proposed voluntary code of on-pack litter messaging is ‘code’ for food packaging materials but argues it should also apply to tobacco, newspapers and ATM receipts.
Viridor welcomed an emphasis on tackling antisocial behaviour through a system of fines and penalty notices, while making it easier for people to dispose of rubbish.
A spokesman said: “It is entirely right that the new strategy seeks to punish those who would blight the countryside through fly-tipping while taking action to help those who want to do the right thing and recycle their waste.”
The company said the approach matched its own position, and also that the Government’s commitment to new guidance for councils on the nation’s ‘binfrastructure’ echoed its own own ’Right Stuff, Right Bin’ campaign with local authority partners to encourage recycling.