Council bosses reject food industry’s call to drop EPR

The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) has said the food industry claim that the cost of extended producer responsibility (EPR) will inevitably be passed on to consumers is “disingenuous”.

In response to a call from the Food and Drink Federation for the next prime minister to drop EPR because of the cost-of-living crisis, ADEPT said it was vital that producers met the cost of waste management and recycling rather than through council tax budgets .

ADEPT Environment Board chair Steve Read said: “The premise that the cost of EPR has to be passed on to consumers is frankly disingenuous – the industry could do much more to make better and more effective use of packaging.

“There is no requirement for these costs to be passed on to the consumer. The cost of poor and excessive packaging has been avoided by the industry for years and it is disappointing that such a narrow perspective of how the cost-of-living crisis impacts on households and the most vulnerable in society is being put forward.

“When an industry doesn’t regulate itself, we need strong fiscal policies to encourage the sustainable use of precious resources.”

ADEPT backs EPR as a way of taking the cost of waste management out of the public purse. It said industry would then be given the incentive to make packaging more recyclable and drive much-needed investment in UK recycling infrastructure.

Read added: “Local authorities cannot afford for EPR to be delayed when they are already under extreme financial pressure.

“Every pound spent by councils on dealing with rubbish could be better spent against the spiraling cost of social care for the elderly and vulnerable – which are only going to worsen in the coming months. Abandoning EPR will do nothing for hard-hit households.”

The FDF’s position received support from The Sun newspaper, which branded EPR as a ‘recycling tax’.

Environmental Services Association executive director Jacob Hayler reacted angrily to the FDF. He said: “The cost-of-living crisis should not be leveraged as a politically opportune excuse by some producers to maintain the status quo and to continue flooding British rubbish bins with poorly-designed packaging material in the knowledge that council-tax payers will simply continue to foot the bill regardless – particularly at a time when many major food and drink retailers are reporting record profits.”

After successful lobbying from the food industry, the cost of EPR to producers was slashed by £1bn as ministers dropped proposals to include business waste collections.

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