Industry urges fresh thinking for on-the-go recycling

Industry figures have reiterated their call for a joined-up approach to on-the-go packaging following last week’s proposal by MPs for a 25p levy on disposable coffee cups.

Martin Kersh, the executive director at the Foodservice Packaging Association, said that now was the time to reform the PRN system as opposed to taxing individual items of packaging. He added that this was the best way to boost investment in recycling for on-the-go packaging.

“The point is that business has to get across its point,” he said. “It should not just come from manufacturers but brands and retailers as well. They need to provide the reform for all of single use packaging. Business has to take the matter seriously.

“Reform of the PRN system could happen faster than the other options [such as levies]. It could come in as secondary legislation.”

He added: “Why charge consumers? What would you be trying to achieve. Anecdotally, I’m hearing that there has been a lot of push back from the public on this. They do not want a 25p tax.

“Industry has to capitalise on this. We do not want to make it more expensive for local authorities and the solution comes through reform of the PRN system.”

He was speaking after a committee of MPs delivered a report proposing a 25p levy on disposable coffee cups. The Environmental Audit Committee argued that the money raised from the levy should go towards improving infrastructure to improve the recycling record of paper cups.

The chief executive of INCPEN, Paul Vanston, also called for a joined-up approach on recycling. Vanston said that the existing system for extended producer responsibility for packaging is “beneficial in that it already provides a funding route to improve recycling infrastructure and supporting activities including communications with citizens”.

Vanston said that INCPEN wanted to get behind efforts to boost recycling “not just on quantities but also on quality”.

He added: “The Committee rightly highlights money is needed on a sustained basis to pay for the added value to be gained from improvements to recycling infrastructure whether at home or away from home.

“It is a major plus right now that there is widespread support for truly meaningful reforms to the packaging system across four sectors: the packaging supply chain, local government, waste and resource management; and reprocessors. In our minds, reform of the single existing system in place for all packaging is a better option than bringing-in multiple and differing taxes, charges or levies for individual types of packaging.

“INCPEN welcomes the Committee’s agreement that citizens need good access to easy-to-use, and widely available, recycling infrastructure that fits with how people organise their daily lives. Recycling infrastructure does differ markedly between localities, and on-the-go recycling opportunities tend to be sparse. On coffee cups specifically, we note there is encouraging work to promote re-usable cups by major companies and independent providers, as well as industry initiatives to capture cups for recycling in-store and at home in accord with customers’ preferences.”