Government releases Environment Bill

The UK Government has released an environmental bill, going beyond the key commitments made earlier this year, with legislation to ensure legally binding environmental improvement targets.

The bill will introduce powers to enhance nature and habitats. and combat the effects of plastics on our natural environment. Following on from the success of introducing a plastic bag charge, there will be charges for a number of single use plastic items.

A new independent Office for Environmental Protection will be established to oversee environmental policy and take enforcement action, with the intent of holding the government to account, particularly with Brexit removing many of the current environmental targets and restrictions set by the EU currently.

The 5 main areas outlined in the bill are:

  • Environmental governance.
  • A new direction for resources and waste management.
  • Improving the air we breathe.
  • Delivering sustainable water resources.
  • Restoring and enhancing nature and green spaces.

The bill builds upon several items set out by the previous government consultations for the waste and resources sector, to “transform the way we manage our waste” through increasing producer responsibility and a bottle deposit return scheme.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Our natural environment is a vital shared resource and the need to act to secure it for generations to come is clear.

“That’s why our landmark Environment Bill leads a green transformation that will help our country to thrive. It positions the UK as a world leader on improving air quality, environmental biodiversity, a more circular economy, and managing our precious water resources in a changing climate.”

Although the bill states legally binding environmental targets will be set, policy details have yet to be released so actionable projects are currently unknown.

Several charities have praised the emphasis put on nature recovery and litter in England but raised concerns that bill does not address the role the UK is playing in driving the destruction of nature overseas.

Tanya Steele, from the WWF, said: "We must also reduce and reverse the UK's negative impact on nature abroad and remove deforestation from the supply chains of foods we eat and things we buy."

Head of Sustainable Business at Clarity Environmental, Jimmy Dorrell, welcomed the proposed changes: “It is clear from the environmental bill that the waste and resources sector will face many changes in the coming years. We have already seen a tumultuous year in the PRN market, with many producers already experiencing increased costs of compliance.

“We are pleased that, in the face of a climate crisis, the government is committing to protecting nature, improving air quality and setting clear environmental targets. However, it is essential that these changes are implemented in line with investment in UK infrastructure, implementation of changes in recycling, collection and a plastic tax must be communicated clearly and brought in gradually to ensure small and medium businesses can prepare accordingly.”

Future-proof with Clarity Environmental

We are encouraging our packaging compliance members to consider making changes to packaging now to avoid the future costs of inaction. We can help by looking at your data, the packaging you use and the opportunities for reducing the impact of packaging. If you are concerned that future changes to extended producer responsibility will impact your business get in touch to find out how our team can help you prepare.

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