Skip to content

What policy and targets does the UK need to scale-up for reuse and refill?

Read the Perspective, by Root’s founder Tracy Sutton, on PolicyConnect’s recent All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable ResourceGroup evidence session.

Last week, the think tank Policy Connect’s All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APPSRG) hosted its second evidence session on “Unpacking the Circular Economy”.

The session focused on the challenges and drivers that policy needs to address to allow the UK to build viable reusable and refillable packaging solutions.

The purpose was to identify key levers required and barriers in the way of big businesses investing in reuse. The learnings from this session will help define the tangible areas that politicians need to focus on to influence the formulation of better, more effective reuse policy in the UK.

Insights gathered from the session by Policy Connectwill be used in a consultation paper and call forevidence

Root’s founder, Tracy Sutton, was invited to speak at the session and share her insights based on the diverse reuse and refill projects that Root has worked on with multinational brands and packaging manufacturers.

The insights gathered from the session by Policy Connect will be used in a consultation paper and call for evidence. Root plans to share this information with our network, encouraging everyone to participate and contribute to the discussion.

We asked Tracy to give us a summary of the main points and key takeaways from the session. Here’s what she said:

Policy needs to increase confidence for investment in reuse

Most policy currently incentivises making single-use less bad when it should actually be setting the foundations to make reuse commercially desirable for businesses and socially desirable for the public. Investors recognise that businesses producing disposable products (especially those using primarily fossil fuels) are high risk. There is an opportunity for policy to drive investment in new infrastructure and create green jobs in businesses that are appealing to investors.

Standardisation is system-critical

I proposed that the introduction of industry standards would make it easier to increase economies of scale and subsequent affordability for citizens with all income levels. Marketers tend to disagree with this point but those piloting and putting reuse int practice agree.


LCA alone is not sufficient

Life cycle analysis (LCA) can only paint part of the picture required to measure comparative benefits between single-use and reuse systems and ultimately define whether a reuse system actually delivers environmental impact reduction. There are a number of gaps that LCAs can’t cover, and there was a suggestion to mandate full transparency when reporting LCAs to remove the current issues of bias and selective LCA reports – a definitive issue in the packaging sector.

Repurpose, reuse, prefill, or refill?

Policy needs to set out clear definitions that close loopholes that currently allow greenwash. Once a definition is published, products or services making a claim that does not meet or is unable to evidence the definition should be considered misleading and greenwash.


Connected, more strategic policy is essential.

Reuse policy needs a clear purpose and must be able to operate in parallel to extended producer responsibility (EPR), deposit return schemes (DRS), and other policies. There was also a resounding agreement that current competition law is blocking multiple crucial projects for big business that have real opportunities to drive change.

Tracy said, “The session was a value step in the journey to influence policymakers. We look forward to seeing how the UK Government responds and where they sit in the race toward reuse amongst European policymakers.”

To get a complete overview of the event, you can subscribe to our Knowledge Bank.

By doing so, you will also benefit from our Root Perspective, which translates the insights from key industry reports, events, and news into actionable steps for your business to take.