Following a round table discussion convened by the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, in December last year WRAP, INCPEN (Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment) and Defra’s Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) have, for the last two months, been engaged in a comprehensive programme of  discussions with stakeholders from across the UK packaging supply chain.

The talks explored  how packaging regulatory reform could help to reduce the environmental impact caused by the way we use and dispose of packaging, especially plastic packaging.

Following six sector workshops, a summit was convened on April 16 to share the findings with stakeholders across the UK and agree on a set of recommendations to be sent to the Secretary of State.

There was broad support across the whole packaging value chain for radical change to the existing producer responsibility regime. There was also agreement that change needs to be cohesive with other policy instruments and consistent across the UK with greater transparency and accountability. Businesses were clear that they are willing to pay more into the system to ensure it is adequately funded and works effectively.

The recommendations are geared towards:

•         Achieving better packaging design

•         Making it easier for people to recycle, whether at home, at work, and on-the-go

•         Achieving higher quality, consistent collections

•         Encouraging UK  reprocessing through quality feedstock

•         Creating markets with strong demand  for recycled content

There was also support for the establishment of an independent arbiter to ensure that funds raised through the system are spent in the system in the most effective way possible.

We welcome the Secretary of State’s response to the recommendations and his recognition that they will inform future policy decision making. We stand ready to continue to input into this important area of work.

Marcus Gover, chief executive, WRAP, commented:

“We were delighted with the rich and fruitful discussions across the whole packaging chain and the participants’ genuine commitment to radical reform. I want to thank Paul Vanston and Phil Conran for their important contribution to the process.

“The Secretary of State’s response is very encouraging and I am particularly pleased to see his commitment to accelerating the move to uniform recycling collections, as this supports a key area of work for WRAP. The need for government policy to underpin the commitments made by business will be key to us achieving the ambitious goals we have laid out in The UK Plastics Pact.”

Paul Vanston, chief executive INCPEN, echoed this view and said:

“I’m dlighted with the leadership by Michael Gove, Secretary of State and Therese Coffey, Environment Minister in wishing to create a better functioning packaging value chain from design through to consumers and on to reprocessing and continued life of materials.  The breadth and depth of engagement in the last six months, facilitated by WRAP, INCPEN and the ACP, led to a universally supported message that funds raised by the value chain need to be used to solve problems within it.

“We’re also enthused that, after years of debate, we have moved closer to seeing a consistent collection system for used packaging across our country.  The next steps are to continue working with the government to support the packaging reforms consultation later this year, alongside publication of a comprehensive Resources & Waste Strategy.”

Phil Conran, Chair of ACP, commented:

“We welcome the Secretary of State’s very positive response that will help to focus the direction of travel in the work the ACP is doing with Defra in developing options for change.”

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