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It is broke - so fix it for fairness


Steve is right to argue that the cost of recycling packaging particularly has fallen too much on local authorities rather than on producers and consumers. I am not sure how his proposed solutions would work, however. His first suggestion might be implemented by effectively applying a packaging tax set to recover the national cost of an efficient recycling service and adding the proceeds of that to local authority grants. But I wouldn't trust Mr Pickles or the Treasury not to offset that by reducing other grant support. An alternative would be to set packaging targets differently so that a proportion of them had to be met from household collections. That would generate higher PRN prices for those materials which local authorities would share in. Both approaches have serious administrative issues to resolve. The quality issue is a harder nut to crack. It will need effective regulation of the export trade as a minimum but it is a worry that the guidance from the EA just published seems to want to put much of the responsibility for that on the shoulders of local authorities. Maybe the reprocessors need to become more active in the sorting of waste as Shotton has done. A different vertical integration could change the paradigm - but the story about DS Smith and the SCA MRF shows there are problems with that too.

Posted date

9 January, 2013

Posted time

9:54 am