The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has responded to the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) publication of its fifth report on the Government’s programme of waste reforms.

The report criticised the ‘lack of clarity’ to Defra’s collection and packaging reforms, and stated that without clarification, the subsequent lack of investment will prevent the Government from succeeding in its proposed plan to reduce waste.

In the report, PAC said: “The Department expects simpler recycling to increase recycling rates from 42% to 52-60% by 2035 which, without significant contributions from other projects, would leave it well short of its 2035 target to recycle 65% of municipal waste.

“We received written evidence from Green Alliance, which told us the 2035 recycling target is increasingly likely to be missed due to the delay to the introduction of the programme.”

The PAC questioned the terms of Defra’s longer-term policies, as it said it has yet to clarify exactly how the waste system must change. It stated that without the certainty of a long-term plan, companies lack the confidence to invest in new recycling facilities.

While Defra said that the delay in the implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme was to allow councils more time to prepare and adjust services, the PAC said in the report that it “remains concerned” that councils can’t use the additional time to prepare “until they receive a timeline for implementation and confirmation of funding.”

Posted on the FDF website, Jim Bligh, director of corporate affairs and packaging said: “Over the last two years, we’ve raised our concerns directly that this proposed scheme doesn’t replicate best practice when compared globally and is more closely aligned to tax raising schemes in countries like Russia and Hungary.

“Defra must take on board the recommendations of the committee to work closely with all stakeholders to design a world leading scheme that delivers a true circular economy, which means that recycled food packaging is used again for the same purpose and not sent to landfill or incinerated.”