The Environment Bill has moved another step closer to becoming law, following its second reading at the House of Commons yesterday (Wednesday 26 February 2020).
The Environment Bill sets out how the government plans to protect and improve the natural environment in the UK, and deliver the vision set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan. It will allow the government to introduce environmental legislation to align with the Resources and Waste Strategy.
Opening the Bill’s Second Reading, Environment Secretary George Eustice said:
“It is a keystone in the government’s vision to deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth.”
“This transformative Bill is at the heart of our work. It will see us recycling more and wasting less, breathing cleaner air, planting trees, safeguarding forests, and supporting nature recovery as we work to tackle climate change and reach net zero emissions.”
The Bill will:
The Environment Bill confirms plans to reform our existing producer responsibility arrangements, with an intention to make producers responsible for the full net costs of managing their products at end of life. The changes also provide for modulated fees that will incentivise producers to design their products with re-use and recycling in mind, by paying less when their products are easier to recycle.
It also includes two new commitments, which were added following the December election. Firstly, a power to enable a ban or restrictions on the export and import of waste (including plastic waste) between the UK and non-OECD countries. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) stated the addition of the ban is significant and ‘could prevent harmful waste from being shipped out of sight whilst boosting the UK’s domestic recycling system’. The second new commitment is to conduct a two-yearly review of the “significant developments in international legislation”, which will help to inform UK policy.
Martin Trigg-Knight, Head of Packaging for Clarity Environmental, commented:
“It is good to see the Environmental Bill moving forward after the delays, and interesting to see the new additions addressing waste exports. It has long been clear that we need to look more closely at the impact of our industry abroad and ensure that exports are ethical and sustainable. In the meantime, we have been working closely with the industry to particularly support reprocessors that operate with the high standards our packaging compliance members would expect.”
“Whilst there remains a lack of detail in the Environment Bill as it stands, the direction is clear. The cost for businesses required to be compliant will increase dramatically in the future and there is no doubt that the industry must take measures now to prepare.”
The Bill now moves on to the Committee Stage, with Report Stage and Third Reading, before it is transferred to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.
The next round of consultations on the ambitions set out in the Resources and Waste Strategy, including Extended Producer Responsibility, a plastics tax and consistent collections, are expected in the late summer months.
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.