Government's EPR scheme ‘the last thing' the sector needs says UKHospitality boss

08 June 2023 by
Government's EPR scheme ‘the last thing' the sector needs says UKHospitality boss

A new scheme intended to reduce waste packaging amongst food and drink manufacturers is "the last thing" hospitality sector needs, according to Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive.

The new recycling legislation, known as the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme, is due to come into effect in April 2024.

If the reform goes ahead food and drink manufacturers, who have an annual turnover of £1m or more or who are responsible for supplying or importing more than 25 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods in the UK, would be obliged to report packaging waste data from January next year and pay the full cost of packaging waste disposal from April. The money would be paid to local councils to help improve their waste collection and management of packaging waste.

Last week, food manufacturers lobbied the government to delay the environmental reform citing difficulties in shouldering costs of soaring food and energy prices.

The changes are expected to cost producers at least £1.7b a year.

While the sector takes sustainability commitments seriously, the current proposals are "concerning", Nicholls said.

She added: "The majority of hospitality would likely be affected by increased costs further up the supply chain being passed onto hospitality. This is the last thing businesses need to see when they're already experiencing intense cost pressures across energy, food, and drink.

"We believe major reform to the scheme is needed to truly deliver its environmental ambitions and delay is necessary. We support calls from food manufacturers to ensure EPR is delivered in partnership with industry to make the scheme fit-for-purpose, while driving business growth and minimising costs."

The government has promised such a scheme since 2018, when Michael Gove as environment secretary, first put forward the idea. However, progress has been slow, with delays blamed on Brexit, the pandemic, and ongoing political turmoil.

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