Tesco Ireland DRS

Source: Tesco Ireland

Labour shadow minister for food, fisheries and farming Daniel Zeichner has promised the party will sort out the “omnishambles” of the government’s plans for a deposit return scheme and extended producer responsibility, if it wins the looming general election.

Addressing the FDF dinner last night, Zeichner said he believed the industry was just as frustrated as environment groups over the lack of progress on the plans, with The Grocer revealing last month that the launch date for a DRS faces being put back until 2028.

He said the success of countries like the Republic of Ireland, which has seen more than two million bottles returned in the first month since its DRS launch in February showed what could be done if politicians and industry worked together.

“I talked last year about the problems affecting these schemes but sadly it seems we are no further forward,” said Zeichner.

“It's been described as an omnishambles and it is an omnishambles.”

“The industry as a whole understands the importance of cutting down on waste. We want to do it you want to do it, and we’ve got to find a way of making it happen.

“Frankly other countries have managed to do it, so why can’t we?”

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Last week soft drinks bosses wrote to the government urging it to pass the legislation for a deposit return scheme before the general election, or risk the UK becoming the “dirty man of Europe”.

However, The Grocer understands talks between industry leaders and Defra chiefs have come to a standstill, after supermarket bosses warned that it would be impossible for a DRS scheme to launch until the second quarter of 2028 at the earliest.

Sources said govenrment officials were still hoping to pass the statutory instruments needed to lay the foundations for DRS before the end of the parliament but warned it would not mean the scheme getting off the ground in 2025, which is still officially the government’s start date.

Meanwhile Defra has appointed GS1 veteran Harshal Gore as head of strategy and external relations for its EPR scheme establishment team. 

Gore has worked for GS1 for more than 20 years in the UK and Canada, in the latter working closely with industry on both DRS and EPR schemes.

Defra has also set up an industry group led by former Unilever boss and Wrap chair Sebastian Munden to try to lay the foundations for a scheme administrator for EPR, with charges due to come into force next year.