Policy Highlights: December 2021

As 2022 gets well underway, we are looking ahead to an important year for environmental legislation, with the government expected to publish a response to the first round of consultations on the Resources & Waste Strategy during the early part of the year.

However, there are plenty of headlines to look back on from December first:

Resources & Waste

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published data on household recycling rates for 2020/21, with a recycling rate in England of 43.8% recorded in March 2021. This is slightly lower than the recycling rate of 44% the previous year. More positive statistics showed that separate food waste collections increased by 11% over the last year, meaning that an extra 48,000 tonnes was diverted from landfill. Scotland and Northern Ireland also saw a slight decrease in their household recycling rates, whereas Wales saw a new record high of 65.4%.

Elsewhere, HMRC published updated guidance on the Plastic Packaging Tax before it is introduced in April this year. These updates include more examples of which types of packaging are subject to the tax; how VAT works alongside the tax; and how to calculate the weight of plastic packaging components and each material used when manufacturing them. In Scotland, the new 'go-live' date for the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) has been confirmed as 16th August 2023. The Scottish Government also published an update following key findings from the independent gateway review into the Scottish DRS.


There were several updates from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in December, including the annual update report provided to Parliament on the progress made on policy mechanisms implemented under the Electricity Market Reform programme. During the department's Modern Energy Partners (MEP) programme, guidance was developed to assist organisations on their decarbonisation journey. This included methods to enable large public campus sites to achieve at least 50% non-traded carbon emissions reductions by 2032 against a 2017 baseline. Before the end of the year, BEIS also published its response to the consultation on a heat network framework.


Net Zero

DEFRA announced plans to phase out the use of peat in the amaetur horticulture sector, as part of the government's plans to protect and restore peatlands, which act as the largest natural carbon store. In other carbon-related news, BEIS has published research on public attitudes towards carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS). The general agreement was that CCUS will play a significant role in the pathway to Net Zero, but that it must be deployed safely and efficiently. Elsewhere, following COP26 which took place in November, COP President Alok Sharma has published a written statement to Parliament on the UK's priorities. These include delivering the Glasgow Climate Pact; a commitment to doubling the climate finance provided for adaptation to developing countries by 2025; and driving up private finance to support the climate transition.

The harmful effects of harvesting peat for use in compost have been widely reported for some time. But calls for peat products to be banned have now stepped up a gear, with organisations like the National Trust joining the campaign.


To read December's Policy News in full, download your copy here

-Further Reading-

The Plastic Packaging Tax Hub

We are now on the countdown to the introduction of the Plastic Packaging Tax in April 2022. With only a few months to go, you need to know exactly how the Tax will affect your business.

Veolia and Carbon Clean announce first carbon capture trials

Veolia is set to become the first UK operator of Energy Recovery Facilities (ERF) to demonstrate the latest carbon capture technology with Carbon Clean, a global leader in low-cost carbon capture technology.

Less than a third of businesses have a Net Zero strategy

How prepared is your business for Net Zero? According to research recently undertaken by Veolia and YouGov, only 29% of UK businesses have a Net Zero strategy in place.

COP26 and beyond: Playing our part in protecting our planet

COP26, the UN's annual climate change conference, is more highly anticipated than ever. But what progress has been made so far?