The Retail Packaging Recycling Bill, sponsored by Liberal Democrat MP Andrew Stunell, would require shops to provide in-store collection points, to which customers could return packaging for recycling.
But the bill has provoked a backlash by shopkeepers' group the British Retail Consortium, which says that its will require extra staff and investment. The group's Director General, Kevin Hawkins, told the BBC:
'Retailers are doing a great deal - cutting back packaging, reducing the environmental impact of plastic bags and, where practical, offering recycling facilities. Local authorities' failure to agree with each other on what they will and won't recycle is a significant barrier and is actually preventing retailers and manufacturers informing consumers about what and how they should recycle.'
The retailers' response has baffled Stunell:
'This is a very straightforward bill,' he said. 'It means that all the packaging you get at the stores, all the paper and the plastic - you should be able to go back to the shop and say thank you, but I don't want it.
I find it astonishing that they don't want to do this.'
This article first appeared in the Ecologist June 2007