A coalition of NGOs is monitoring the environmental impacts of the UK leaving the EU and has raised the risk to the waste and resource sector.
The Greener UK Brexit risk tracker, which was launched in June, is issued quarterly and shows the policy areas that are more secure, and which are most at risk. Traffic light ratings have been given to each significant policy area, to indicate low (green), medium (amber) or high risk (red).
Overall, the sector has moved from medium risk in June, to high risk in this latest update. The period between June and September included the publication and second reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill, and a third Brexit speech by Prime Minister Teresa May in Florence.
In its commentary alongside the risk tracker, Greener UK says that after a decade without a domestic strategy paper in England, Michael Gove has announced that there will be a renewed strategy on waste and resources. However, it remains unclear when this will be published, how far it will diverge from European practices, and whether or not the UK will adopt the measures in the European Circular Economy Package (CEP) and other waste and resource legislation.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has already indicated that it does not expect England to meet the CEP’s 2030 recycling target of between 60 and 70 per cent. Defra says the targets are too high to be achievable and the UK is already on course to miss the existing target of 50 per cent by 2020. While the waste hierarchy is enshrined in the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011, Greener UK says the EU Withdrawal Bill fails to give any clear commitment beyond exit day to the other general principles in the EU treaties that underpin waste and resources policy. These include the goals of sustainable development and a high level of environmental protection, the precautionary principle, the proximity principle and the polluter pays principle.
Greener UK’s Risk Tracker will continue to monitor the risks to the environment by checking the status of relevant policies during the Brexit process. The September update of the tracker raises concerns across many other areas, including air quality, chemicals and nature protection. No area has had its risk downgraded since the tracker was launched after the referendum in 2016.
We will continue to keep all of our WEEE compliance and packaging compliance members, clients and partners informed of changes as the EU exit negotiations progress. If you are a WEEE or packaging compliance member and have any questions about the impact of the UK’s departure from the EU, please get in touch with a member of our team on 0845 129 7177.
You can see the full Greener UK report here.