Call for new legal measures to tackle excess packaging

(Title Image: ITV)

Yesterday, the Senedd unanimously backed a proposed law by Jenny Rathbone AM (LabInd, Cardiff Central) which would place additional requirements on food producers with regard packaging waste and to ensure that producers pay a share towards the cost of recycling products at their end of their useful life.

Jenny said the (English) Environment Agency was now investigating criminal involvement in plastics recycling and export and Welsh Government recycling targets couldn’t be maintained if they were reliant on this industry. There were plenty of examples around the world to follow from.

“In Germany, the Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act 1996, introduced 20 years ago, compels manufacturing companies to design wasteful packaging out of their processes. It has created a vibrant waste industry that is amongst the world leaders, and this is something that I think that we could be doing in Wales too.

“We need to embed extended producer responsibility into all these packaging items so that the manufacturers pay for what is currently being paid for by council tax payers.”
– Jenny Rathbone AM

Shadow Environment Minister, David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central) praised efforts by the Welsh Government to reduce the amount of single-use plastic – such as by rolling out a free refillable drinking water scheme.

Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) said his party supports a “polluter pays” principle and supports introducing a levy on single-use plastic – which the UK Government are taking forward. The Welsh Government want to approach it on an EnglandandWales basis, but he didn’t believe the UK Government’s plans were ambitious enough, particularly on disposable cups.

Hefin David AM (Lab, Caerphilly) expressed caution about how recycling was approached, citing an example in his constituency where residents stopped recycling food waste in protest due to strong smells coming from a nearby food waste processing plant. Julie Morgan AM (Lab, Cardiff North) backed a deposit-return scheme.

In reply, Environment Minister, Hannah Blythyn (Lab, Delyn), said packaging was rightly a high-profile issue at the moment.

“On the basis that there’s imminent significant activity in this area, the Welsh Government will be abstaining on this motion today, but the proposals are sound and I think it is an excellent proposal. As Environment Minister, I place a strong focus on waste management and on building on the record that we already have on recycling. As the Member said, recycling is just one end and it’s actually about looking at reusing, reducing and how we start to tackle things at the start of their life as well as at the end of their life.”
– Environment Minister, Hannah Blythyn

The Welsh Government abstained based on the “significant activity” already taking place in this area of policy, but the minister said the proposals were sound and it was “an excellent proposal”.

  • 21