Recycling consistency and weekly food waste collections planned for all homes

All homes will have weekly food waste collections and be able to recycle the same rubbish, under Government plans.

Ministers are also consulting on bringing in a deposit return scheme for drinks bottles and cans, to boost recycling rates and cut litter, and for a tax on plastic packaging which has less than 30% recycled content.

Under the plans household recycling, which currently varies from council to council, would become more consistent.

Glass bottles and containers, paper and card, plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays, and steel and aluminium tins and cans would be collected from all homes.

The colours of the bins to collect recycling, food and garden waste and rubbish could also be standardised.

And by 2023 rules would be brought in for local authorities to provide homes with at least a weekly separate collection service for food waste, including the containers and liners needed to take away people’s food rubbish.

The proposals could also see free collections of garden waste reintroduced, something which many councils currently charge for, with grass, plant and hedge clippings collected at least fortnightly in bins or sacks.

Funding would be provided to councils to bring in the changes under the plans, with packaging producers set to pay the full cost of dealing with their waste, the Government said.

The proposals for a deposit return scheme (DRS) would see plastic and glass bottles and aluminium and steel cans for water, soft drinks, juices, alcohol, and milk-containing drinks, but not milk or similar plant-based drinks such as soy milk.

It would add a deposit to the price of drinks at the point of purchase, which people would get back when they return their empty containers to designated return points in supermarkets, shops and public places such as railway stations.

The DRS would either be an “all in” scheme which could cover drinks containers of all sizes and could deliver benefits of almost £2.2 billion over 10 years.

Or it could be an “on-the-go” system, that restricts the containers involved to those less than 750ml in size, which would have an estimated benefit of £249 million.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the proposals would also make Britain a leader in turning its back on a “throw-away” society.

He said: “Through our plans we will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling.”

David Palmer-Jones, chief executive of Suez Recycling And Recovery UK, said making producers fully responsible for their packaging could provide better funding for council and commercial waste collection and sorting services.

“It should also lead to greater harmonisation of services, which makes life easier for consumers.”

He said better labelling and other measures should make collections more consistent and help households know what they can recycle.

While some are advocated a deposit return scheme targeted at on-the-go drinks containers, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) called for a comprehensive scheme.

Samantha Harding, litter programme director at CPRE, said: “By introducing a deposit system that accepts and collects every single can and bottle, Michael Gove has a golden opportunity to end growing scepticism around current recycling methods by boosting recycling rates of drinks cans and bottles to near perfection.

“This would make such a difference to the health of our environment and relieve struggling local councils of the huge financial burden of waste management by making those who produce these vast amounts of packaging rightfully liable for the costs of dealing with it.”