Veolia UK _ Policy News September

Policy News, September 2019

The Resources and Waste Strategy, the Environment & Climate and the Government Spending Review

The latest update on regulatory and legislative developments.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee report calls on reducing all single-use packaging - not just plastic

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee published its post-inquiry report examining plastic food and drink packaging. The report criticises the fact that the Government doesn’t know how much plastic packaging is placed on the market in the UK and how much is actually recycled. It also highlighted that there is not enough emphasis on plastic food and drink packaging reduction in the first place and that a shift away from all single-use packaging is now necessary.

The Committee supports Government proposals set out in the RWS, but expressed the following recommendations:

  • Lower the current de minimis threshold from 50 tonnes to one tonne to enable more accurate data gathering.
  • The plastic packaging tax should be modulated, rather than a fixed 30% threshold, thus allowing lower fees for higher levels of recycled content. Also, an exemption from the tax for food contact packaging, for a period of 18 months, to allow new materials to meet the necessary, strict hygiene requirements.
  • A binary labelling system whereby packaging is simply labelled either as recyclable or not recyclable. The Green Dot recommended to be removed from plastic packaging produced and placed on the market in the UK.
  • On the use of alternative materials, the Committee argued that other impacts, such as carbon emissions, must also be considered when determining which materials should be used in packaging.
  • The Committee doesn’t support a general increase in the use of industrially compostable packaging at this stage as the waste management infrastructure is not yet fit for purpose.

New appointment at Defra: Rebecca Pow MP will lead on Resources and Waste Strategy

Following Therese Coffey’s recent appointment as Work and Pensions Secretary of State, Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow joined Defra as Parliamentary Under-Secretary. She will be in charge of domestic natural environment, the 25-Year Environment Plan, the Environment Bill, flooding, water, climate change adaptation and land use policy.

Pow has also been given responsibility for the Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS), a topic that she is likely to oversee with interest as she has been behind the Conservative Party’s vision on improving recycling in the UK, covering topics such as local authority partnerships, recycling consistency and reducing plastic waste.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation report: Circular economy enables greenhouse gases reduction

The Foundation has released a research paper which demonstrates the role of the circular economy in reducing greenhouse gases. The paper highlights that while crucial renewable energy systems will only address 55% of the climate change challenge, the other 45% will need to be addressed by a circular economy transformation in how we make and use products. It concentrates on five key areas (cement, plastics, steel, aluminium, and food) to illustrate how designing out waste, keeping materials in use and regenerating farmland can reduce these emissions.

2019 Spending Review sets our Government departmental budgets for 2020-21

In September, Sajid Javid presented HM Treasury’s one-year spending round which sets out departments’ day-to-day budgets for 2020-21. A full multi-year Spending Review will take place in 2020. The Chancellor announced an infrastructure revolution in the upcoming National Infrastructure Strategy, expected later this autumn. Investment will be focused at national priorities like regional growth and decarbonisation. Defra budget sees a 3.3% increase for 2020-21, with £432m of additional funding.

Specific policy areas received direct funding: £30 million increase for work to improve air quality, £30 million for biodiversity and £8 million for animal health. Under BEIS portfolio, an additional £30m was allocated to accelerate progress on developing decarbonisation schemes that will help to move the UK towards its Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050. The Government will also set out plans to significantly boost public R&D funding to at least 2.4% of GDP by 2027.


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