Policy Highlights: July 2021

There was positive news from DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) in July, as they published statistics showing that the UK's recycling rate has increased.

Elsewhere, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced new energy strategies; whilst the Environment Bill has completed Committee Stage in the House of Lords. Read on for more key policy highlights from the past month:

Resources & waste

DEFRA's update on UK waste statistics shows that the UK's household recycling rate increased from 45% in 2018, to 46.2% in 2019. The recycling rate increased in all UK countries in 2019, with provisional figures also showing that 67.2% of UK packaging waste was either recycled or recovered in 2020. In other news, HMRC has provided updated guidance on the Plastic Packaging Tax, to give more information on the materials that will be applicable, including carrier bags and disposable cups. The Environmental Services Association (ESA) also released a report, containing less positive statistics. Their findings show that the total annual cost of waste-related crime has increased by 53% in three years.

Climate change

The Environment Bill is now set to move on to Report stage in the House of Lords, after completing Committee Stage in July. Issues debated so far include local nature recovery strategies and farmers' development rights. The Environmental Audit Committee is also investigating whether local authorities are equipped to reach Net Zero. Elsewhere, the Department for Transport (DfT) has published its Transport Decarbonisation Plan. The plan outlines measures to improve public transport, ensure the rail network is Net Zero by 2050 and transition to green shipping. The DfT has also launched a consultation on introducing an obligation for fuel suppliers to use more sustainable aviation fuels.

In the world of waste, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) has published its Net Zero strategy. The strategy sets out the waste management sector's ambition to reach Net Zero by 2040, by investing a forecasted £10bn in recycling infrastructure over the next decade, amongst other measures.


BEIS published both its Energy Digitalisation Strategy and its Energy Retail Market Strategy in July. The former aims to enable millions of low carbon assets to be optimised across our energy system; while the latter sets out the government's vision of the role of the retail market in achieving Net Zero. BEIS is also seeking views and evidence for carbon capture and storage, and large-scale electricity storage proposals. The EA has published guidance on carbon capture, to support the government's ambition to capture 10Mt of carbon dioxide every year by 2030.


BEIS has published its 'Innovation Strategy', which aims to private sector investment in R&D and make the UK a global hub for innovation by 2035. In July, RECOUP secured an Innovate UK grant to co-fund research to better understand the connection between communications and plastics recycling. Veolia is one of the industry partners working on the project.


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-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 less than a year to go, you need to know exactly how the Tax will affect your business.

Zero Carbon Strategy

Find out how a Zero Carbon Strategy could make a difference to your energy footprint and deliver cost savings.

Planet: Issue 22

This edition of Planet looks at water in the 21st century and how we plan for the unknown.