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UK General Election: Party Manifesto Guide

The General Election is almost upon us, and as the race to Number 10 heats up, all political parties have now released their 2019 election manifestos.

We have scanned the manifestos from four of the main political parties to provide a run-down of the pledges that could have an impact on the waste and resource industry and our environment.

The Green Party ‘If not now, when?’ manifesto, launched on 19 November, puts forward a pledge to move towards making our country “carbon neutral by 2030, while delivering social justice across Britain.” Its vision includes a promise to invest £100 billion a year for the next decade to focus on climate action, renewable energies and a circular economy.

The Party says a reformed waste strategy will include the implementation of an extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme where manufacturers and retailers are required to pay the full cost of recycling and disposing of the packaging they produce. And that it will introduce a ban on the production of single-use plastics for use in packaging, with a promise to invest in the research and development of alternatives to plastic. This will also include an extension to the environmental charging on problematic items, such as plastic bottles, single-use plastics and microplastics.

In line with the proposed deposit return scheme (DRS) outlined in the Resources and Waste Strategy, the Green Party also proposes to extend plastic bottle deposit schemes.

The Liberal Democrats ‘Stop Brexit, build a brighter future’ manifesto, released on 20 November, set out some ambitious policies to tackle the climate emergency by 2030. It says it will establish a Department for Climate Change and Natural Resources and appoint a cabinet-level Chief Secretary for Sustainability in the Treasury to co-ordinate government-wide climate action.

It also announced a pledge to ban all non-recyclable single-use plastics within three years, as well as introducing a Deposit Return Scheme for all drink and food containers.

The Liberal Democrats manifesto pledges to end plastic waste exports by 2030. And it also says it will extend the forthcoming EU ‘right to repair’ legislation for consumer goods, improving accessibility to product repair, reuse and recycling. On recycling, the Party outlines plans to introduce a 70 per cent statutory recycling target in England, extending separate food waste collections to as least 90 per cent of homes by 2024.

Releasing ‘It’s Time for Real Change’ on 21 November, the 2019 Labour party manifesto has a large focus on the environment, with green issues taking the top section of its document. In it the party pledges a promise to kick-start a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ that will create one million jobs in the UK to transform our industry, energy, transport, agriculture and buildings, while restoring nature.

Outlining its concerns on “the global plastics crisis”, Labour has pledged to redefine how the UK manages its waste by banning plastic exports and investing in new domestic plastics remanufacturing infrastructure.

On producer responsibility legislation, Labour has said it will make producers responsible for the waste they create and for the full cost of recycling or disposal, encouraging more sustainable design and manufacture. The party has also backed the introduction of a deposit return system (DRS) for drinks bottles, as well as investment into three new recyclable steel plants.

On recycling improvements, Labour has said it will improve recycling across the UK, learning from the success seen in Wales which has the global top-five recycling rate, and says it will act to bring council services, including bin collections, back in-house within the next Parliament.  The Party also pledges to work with local councils to minimise the amount of food thrown away, whilst also establishing a Right to Food to end “foodbank Britain.”

The manifesto’s environmental proposals also include measures to introduce a Climate and Environment Emergency Bill, setting out in law new standards for decarbonisation, nature recovery, environmental quality and habitats and species protection.

The last party to release its manifesto, on 24 November the Conservative Party launched ‘Get Brexit Done, Unleash Britain’s Potential’. The manifesto reaffirmed a number of environmental measures recently included in its Environment Bill, which passed its second reading in Parliament last month.

The Conservative Party promises to “continue to lead the world in tackling plastics pollution, both in the UK and internationally”, and in a similar move to both Labour and Liberal Democrats, the Party has pledged to end the export of plastic to non-OECD countries. It says it will consult with the recycling industry, councils and government organisations to determine when this could be achieved.

As included in the Environment Bill, the manifesto reiterates the plans to increase extended producer responsibility (EPR), with producers paying the full costs of dealing with the waste they produce, as well as the ‘Plastics Tax’ from 2022, which proposes a tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging with less than 30 per cent recycled content.

The manifesto also promises a £500m Blue Planet Fund to protect our oceans from plastic pollution, warming sea temperatures and overfishing and pledges a crack-down on fly-tipping by increasing penalties.

The UK’s general election will take place on 12 December.

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