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Welcome to the Westminster City Council Commercial Waste Services policy update, where we bring you the latest news and initiatives which could impact your business. In this edition, we highlight key developments that you need to be aware of, including:

  • DEFRA: Single-use plastic ban
  • DEFRA: Update on EPR Modulated Fees
  • DEFRA: Producers urged to address ‘flushable’ wet wipes labelling

Join us as we delve into these important topics and explore the actions being taken to shape a greener future for our community.

DEFRA: Single-use plastics ban

DEFRA has recently announced that from 1st October 2023 you will no longer be able to supply, sell, or offer single-use plastic including biodegradable, compostable and recycled single-use plastic. Some examples of the types of single-use plastic covered in this ban includes:

  • Plates, bowls, trays
  • Cutlery 
  • Balloon sticks
  • Polystyrene food and drink containers

It’s important to note that this covers items not only from new but also existing stock, and will be for both online and over-the-counter purchases. So what does this mean for businesses? It means you should start getting ready for this ban as soon as possible by thinking about the following:

  1. How can you use up all of your existing stock before 1st October?
  2. Do you need to order new stock that features reusable alternatives?
    • Example: Can you use metal forks rather than plastic?
  3. If for some reason your item can’t be made from reusable materials, can you consider a different material for single-use items that can be recycled? 
    • Example: Can you use cardboard/paper boxes rather than plastic containers?

DEFRA: Update on EPR Modulated Fees

The four nations are collaborating to introduce modulated fees within the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for packaging. The goal is to encourage producers to use environmentally friendly materials.

As a business, this means that the fees you pay will be adjusted based on the recyclability of the packaging materials you use. The aim is to incentivise you to use more environmentally friendly materials with lower environmental impacts. The exact details of how the fees will be modulated and the specific materials that will be affected are still being determined through stakeholder engagement. 

However, businesses should be prepared to potentially face higher fees for packaging materials that are less recyclable and lower fees for materials that are more recyclable. We encourage you to start thinking about how you can change your packaging to be as environmentally friendly as possible. If you are unsure, we are always happy to offer our expert advice.

For more information and FAQs on the fees, click here.

DEFRA: Producers urged to address ‘flushable’ wet wipes labelling

The UK government has taken specific measures to address the environmental impact of wet wipes and is now directing its attention towards businesses to help. Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey has reached out to wet wipes producers, expressing concerns about the significant number of wet wipes being flushed down toilets. This practice not only leads to sewer blockages but also contributes to water pollution, which can have detrimental effects on the local environment. To prevent such issues, Coffey has requested producers to reconsider the use of the term ‘flushable’ on packaging, as it may mislead consumers and encourage improper disposal. 

The government’s aim is to ensure everyone, including businesses, are mindful of their role in reducing sewer blockages and water pollution caused by wet wipes. We recommend communicating this to employees and having notices up where possible to remind customers/visitors not to flush them down the toilet.

Other: DESNZ: Government holds first Net Zero Council meeting

Although not a policy update, it’s important to be aware that the first Net Zero Council meeting has taken place. The UK government established the Net Zero Council in collaboration with business and finance leaders to drive the transition to a net-zero economy. The council, co-chaired by Energy Minister Graham Stuart and Co-op Group CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq, aims to support businesses across all sectors in reducing their emissions and adopting greener practices. 

The council’s objectives include providing guidance to sectors and companies, reviewing financing challenges, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their carbon reduction efforts, and promoting a coherent approach across government, finance, and business sectors. The construction, manufacturing, retail, water and waste, and university and research sectors have been identified as priority areas. 

Read this summary to see how the first meeting went and how they’re kickstarting the transition to a low-carbon future.

What next for businesses in Westminster?

Overall, the June/July 2023 policy updates highlight the ongoing commitment of various government bodies to drive sustainable practices and protect our environment. You can read the full policy update here.

Remember if you’re looking for a way to help, you can start by optimising your waste management services. Click here for our range of sustainable services and take action towards a greener future and fairer Westminster today.

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