The Welsh Government is considering options to tackle the problems associated with food and drink packaging, in line with the principles of Extended Producer Responsibilities (EPR).

The Welsh Government has identified that the everyday litter seen across cities, towns and the countryside is having a negative impact on both the environment and wider society, in keeping with Keep Wales Tidy‘s finding that littering is always in the top three issues highlighted to councillors and officials.

We were commissioned to identify specific policy measures that could bring about waste and litter prevention, and increase recycling rates in order to combat this problem. Our report looked at specific items, which were chosen for their low recycling rate and/or their prevalence in the litter stream: these included beverage containers, single-use cups and lids, takeaway food packaging, single-portion sachets, black plastic packaging and metallised film crisp and confectionary packaging.

Our report feeds into the development of the Welsh Government’s wider approach to EPR. EPR schemes should cover full net cost recovery of items throughout their lifecycles, which, in line with the Waste Framework Directive, will see a greater proportion of end-of-life costs covered by producers rather than local authorities. The Welsh Government’s programme, Taking Wales Forward emphasises the importance of a stronger and fairer economy, and the introduction of EPR schemes, which shifts the burden of costs away from the taxpayer and towards consumers and producers, is a key part of achieving this wider objective.

A longlist and shortlist of policy options were drawn up for the six types of packaging identified in the report. These were discussed and refined in a series of workshops with key stakeholders, including producers, retailers, regulators and civil society representatives. The result of our research is a series of recommended policy measures that would bring the management of the six key packaging types in line with EPR schemes.

The final recommendations included the introduction of a nationwide DRS for beverage containers, a consumer-facing fee on single-use takeaway cups, and the introduction of a modulated producer fees on takeaway food packaging, crisps and confectionary packaging, single-serve sachets, and black plastic packaging.

The Welsh Government is considering an 80% recycling target for local authorities: our report will act as a valuable piece of research into the policies that would need to be implemented in order to achieve this.

Ayesha Bapasola, our Project Manager, said:

“Shifting the financial burden of waste management for problematic packaging away from cash-strapped councils and taxpayers and onto producers and consumers is an essential pillar of a circular economy.

The measures recommended in this report will help Wales reinforce its position as one of the world leaders in resource efficiency, simultaneously reducing their litter problem, and, where possible, preventing waste altogether.”

You can download the report for free here.

Picture courtesy of Mr TinDC, CC BY-ND 2.0, Flickr.