Policy Highlights September/October 2023

Single Use Plastic Cups and Forks

DEFRA announced a new ban on more single use plastic items that came into effect on Sunday 1st October 2023. In addition, the Great British Insulation Scheme could help more than 300,000 homes in England, Scotland and Wales with their energy bills.

DEFRA: New bans on single-use plastics come into force

From 1st October 2023, new bans and restrictions on various single-use plastic items have been put into action. The primary goal of these measures is to reduce litter and promote the reuse of materials.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has officially confirmed that no businesses in England, including retailers, takeaways, food vendors, and those in the hospitality industry, are permitted to sell single-use plastic cutlery, balloon sticks, or polystyrene cups and food containers. The supply of single-use plastic plates, trays, and bowls has also been limited.

These bans and restrictions apply to:

  • Sales and supply, both online and over-the-counter.
  • Both new and existing stock.
  • A wide range of plastic items, including those labelled as biodegradable, bio-based, compostable, and recycled.
  • Items made wholly or partly from plastic, including those with plastic coatings or linings.
Nationwide waste and recycling collection and treatment service for all your businesses waste management needs.

DESNZ: £1 billion insulation scheme launched 

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) has announced a £1 billion insulation scheme, which could help over 300,000 families struggling with high energy bills. Known as the Great British Insulation Scheme, it assists households residing in lower council tax bands with less energy-efficient homes by offering essential upgrades such as roof, loft, or cavity wall insulation. These upgrades can potentially reduce their annual energy expenses by an average of £300 to £400.

These efforts to alleviate energy costs build upon the Government's continuous commitment to protecting vulnerable communities throughout the UK. To determine their eligibility for support, interested households can utilise a newly launched online checker tool. This scheme will complement the existing Energy Company Obligation (ECO) initiative, which offers free energy efficiency improvements like insulation, heat pumps, and solar panels to low-income families.


DEFRA: Sets out new timetable for Biodiversity Net Gain 

DEFRA has confirmed that Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) will be set to start in January 2024. However legislation to bring in rules on infrastructure being 'nature positive' will be laid in November.

As seen as the first step towards biodiversity net gain, developers in England will be required to deliver 10% “Biodiversity Net Gain” from January 2024 onwards when building new housing, industrial or commercial developments.

By the end of November, DEFRA will release comprehensive guidance and regulations crucial for implementing Biodiversity Net Gain effectively. These developments signify a commitment to enhancing biodiversity conservation and integration of nature-positive measures into infrastructure projects in England. Biodiversity Net Gain aims to ensure that development projects contribute positively to biodiversity, helping to protect and restore natural habitats.


Innovate UK: £1.5m contest for refillable liquid packaging launched 

UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) has launched a £1.5 million competition to promote reusable and refillable packaging for liquid food and beverages. The competition aims to drive the adoption of reusable and refillable packaging for high-volume liquid food and drinks.

Projects eligible for this competition must demonstrate in-store refill systems at scale. They should involve at least one large retail chain or brand owner and conduct in-store trials in a minimum of five stores, lasting at least six months.

This forms part of UKRI’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge, which is part of UKRI's broader effort to address plastic packaging sustainability challenges. The director of the challenge, Paul Davidson, emphasised the importance of supporting reuse and refill initiatives to reduce single-use plastic packaging.

The competition seeks innovative proposals that can make refill systems more mainstream for everyday liquid products like milk, soft drinks, and sauces. The goal is to create easy, convenient, and cost-effective solutions for consumers, retailers, and the retail supply chain. The competition is open for entries until 25th October 2023.


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-Further Reading-

Tesco works with Veolia to recycle soft plastic and support schools across the UK

Tesco is joining forces with leading sustainable resource management company Veolia, Groundwork and local councils to introduce greener areas in schools, and give children a stronger start by learning more about the environment.

Biomethane - a sustainable and secure future for energy

Veolia recover and treat biogas produced from landfill waste, to be transformed into biomethane, a 100% renewable gas.

Veolia Sustainability Fund Breaks Records Supporting Community Projects

In only its second year of operation, the Sustainability Fund has provided over £80,000 in funding to a record-breaking 96 grassroots community projects across the UK in 2022.

HM Treasury: Reforms to Plastic Tax to boost chemical recycling

HM Treasury announced plans to launch a consultation on changes to the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) which it hopes will encourage investment in chemical recycling.