Long-awaited EU measures designed to ‘close the loop’ on waste have now come into law, while UK government has revealed that tax breaks for using recycled materials are on the horizon.
A ‘Circular Economy Package’ of EU laws entered into force at the start of July after more than three years of development.
The new legislation, which has to be transposed into domestic law in member states within 24 months, aims to boost resource efficiency and waste reduction through product design, business model change and recycling targets.
The targets include recycling rates for packaging waste and overall municipal waste of 70 per cent and 60 per cent respectively by 2030. All waste suitable for recycling or recovery must also be diverted from landfill by 2030.
In addition to targets, the Circular Economy Package places more emphasis on extended producer responsibility (EPR) to incorporate end-of-life waste costs into product prices and incentivise businesses to consider recyclability and reusability in products.
The package also aims to encourage resource efficient business models that reduce waste generation, promote reuse and increase the lifespan of products.
Despite struggling to hit existing waste targets, the UK has ratified the new EU rules and ministers have suggested that the UK could implement even more ambitious policies post-Brexit.
A new UK Resources and Waste Strategy is due to be published this year, which will include tax measures to encourage the use of recycled materials in products.
This will include increased tax rates on virgin materials and tax breaks for recycled content.
Product lifecycle approach
Speaking at an industry event reported by environmental news website edie, Chris Preston, deputy director of waste and recycling at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said: “The focus on how we look at resources and waste has shifted from just waste streams and post-use recycling to things further up the product lifecycle.
“What we want to create is a coherent, end-to-end approach to managing our resources in a more efficient way.”
A new approach to packaging will be a major focus in the strategy, with companies likely to have to take on more responsibility for the materials they use.