What’s next for waste policy? 

Written by

Jack Spriggs


The Conservatives have just announced a new policy on fly-tipping, which would see fly-tippers getting points on their driving licence. 

Nobody denies that fly-tipping is a scourge – the  Government’s own fly-tipping statistics showed there have been more than a million incidences in the last year. Fly-tipping is obviously already illegal, with repeat offenders currently facing up to five years in prison, but only 20% of fly-tipping investigations currently end in fines – meaning the Government has been accused (by the Lib Dems and Labour) of essentially “legalising littering”. 

The policy announced today targets lower-level offenders: the penalties would include points on driving licences, alongside harsher punishments for repeat offenders. 

So, the Conservative announcement is designed beef up their credentials on both the environment and on crime. Fly-tipping and littering are the very visible faces of Government waste policy, and this announcement is the first significant nod to waste and resources in this election campaign so far.  

But the policy announcement today is actually focused more on crime and antisocial behaviour than on waste specifically, meaning the waste and resources sector is still looking for a lot of clarity on waste in this election. The sector will be asking: 

One policy that we might reasonably expect to see in manifestos would be deposit return schemes (DRS). DRS was in the 2019 Conservative one and, although potentially contentious (see Scotland and Ireland), it’s the type of policy that polls well and offers parties a chance to be seen as environmentally ambitious  – and piggyback on the significant work that’s already been undertaken. 

But industry will want a clearer sense of direction and ambition behind a DRS. Whether we see specific announcements on delivery of the scheme remains to be seen – but we could see some overarching policy statements that give the sector some reassurance. 

With the Government mid-way through implementing its extended producer responsibility (EPR) policy – and asking businesses to report on their EPR data – businesses need transparency on what a new administration might do . There are still unanswered questions on modulated fees, timelines, and reporting requirements. The problem for businesses is that these policies aren’t particularly manifesto-friendly, and so we may have to wait until a new Government is fully bedded in before we get this kind of clarity. 

Right before the election was announced, the Government snuck through some regulations on consistent recycling. It was the first nod to Simpler Recycling for a while, giving packaging manufacturers some clarity on materials, thresholds, and implementation dates. But would a new government unpick this policy? Will we see the return of seven bins? And will the industry be happy with a potential Labour Government’s stance on “Simpler Recycling”? 

Some of these questions will be answered in the course of this campaign, but others will not. And, after a tumultuous few years in the waste and resources sector, industry will be desperate for further clarity on waste policy. So, we’ll be keeping our eyes out for any  announcements throughout the campaign and write again with further updates.  

But for more information on what’s been said – including detail on all the policy announcements so far – head to our General Election Hub


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