UK – The UK government has unveiled a new waste strategy that mandates businesses and manufacturers of packaging to pay the full cost of collecting, recycling or disposing of their packaging waste.

Also, supermarkets and other retailers will be charged penalties for putting difficult to recycle packaging such as black plastic trays on the market as part of the initiative.

The strategy which seeks to make the ‘polluter pay’, is part of the government’s move to overhaul England’s waste system and put a legal onus on those responsible for producing damaging waste to take greater responsibility.

It also forms part of the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, which will also see the introduction of annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses.

According to reports, costs to retailers and producers will soar under the plans to between US$632 million (£500m) and US$1.26 million (£1bn) annually.

Currently the taxpayer, through local authorities, funds 90% of the costs of recycling and businesses just 10%.

The government said that should progress be insufficient, it will consult on introducing mandatory targets for food waste prevention.

“Our strategy sets out how we will go further and faster, to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Together we can move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society, to onethat looks at waste as a valuable resource.

“We will cut our reliance on single-use plastics, end confusion over household recycling, tackle the problem of packaging by making polluters pay, and end the economic, environmental and moral scandal that is food waste.

“Through this plan, we will cement our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, leaving our environment in a better state than we inherited it,” said the environment secretary, Michael Gove.

Subject to consultation, a deposit return scheme will also be launched to increase the recycling of single-use drinks containers, including bottles, cans, and disposable cups.

The strategy, launched by the environment secretary aims to introduce a tax on single use plastic with less than 30% recycled content, consider banning plastic packaging, commit to a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans.

It also targets to ensure all households get food waste collections, build a stronger UK recycling market and allow government legislation on materials to be collected.

To help drive up recycling levels further, the government will introduce a consistent set of recyclable material for collection, subject to consultation.

This will be funded by industry through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which will see industry pay higher fees if products are harder to reuse, repair or recycle and will encourage sustainable design, subject to consultation.

Earlier this year, the UK government said it was considering introduction of a tax on plastic packaging which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content from 2022.