The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and the Newsagents Federation (NFRN) have welcomed the government’s new Resources and Waste Strategy for England.
The strategy sets out proposals to minimise waste by eliminating avoidable plastics and increasing the productivity of non-biodegradable resources.
It follows on from the 25-Year Environment Plan and reaffirms the Government’s commitment to consult on a universal carrier bag charge in England, as is already the case in Wales and Scotland.
Areas covered by the strategy include:
• consultation in 2019 on a future deposit return scheme (DRS) to increase the recycling of single-use drinks containers at the point of sale, with a view to implementation by 2023;
• consultation on reform of the packaging waste recovery notes system which will require all producers to pay into the scheme (including retailers) in 2019; and
• new action to ensure that businesses separate their recycling and food waste from residual waste, along with further consultation on food waste reporting.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the resources and waste strategy, and continue to encourage retailers to promote sustainability in their businesses through initiatives like voluntary plastic bag charging and reducing product packaging where possible.
“All parts of the supply chain have a role to play when it comes to reducing the impact of single use plastics, but we remain concerned about any measures that result in what would effectively be taxing retailers and/or consumers twice on the same products. We will continue to work closely with DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & rural Affairs) on how the convenience sector can play its part in reducing waste without unnecessary burdens.”
The NFRN national president Mike Mitchelson said: “The NFRN welcomes this announcement, as we have long called for the introduction of a DRS as this will allow independent retailers to play a greater role in protecting the environment and improve the well-being in their local communities.
“We would like – and are willing – to work closely with the government to design a scheme that enables independent retailers to participate fully, regardless of the size of their shop, which does not incur any additional costs to them or extra red tape. What is clear is that any scheme cannot be a ‘one size fits all’, as this is not acceptable given the different sizes of our members’ shops.”
Since 2017, the NFRN has been working with the Scottish government to develop a DRS scheme in Scotland and he urged Westminster and the devolved administrations to pool their expertise and introduce consistent policies across the UK.