UK: Government Launches Number of Consultations Regarding Waste and the Future of the Regulatory Environment

The UK Government has stated that intends to overhaul the countries waste system, including the regulatory environment that governs waste itself, as well applying new charges for producers of packaging and plastics. The overall aim is to move the UK to a circular economy where waste is treated as a resource that is of economic value, whilst maximising environmental treatments to improve the sustainability across all sectors.

Over the past few decades, the majority of the UKs environment legislation has been as a result of membership to the European Union. Waste is no exception to this, EU legislation is transposed into domestic law, where targets are such (e.g. recycling rates) and other end-of-life treatments are banned (e.g. mixing of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes). With the UK having voted to leave the EU, there has been concern as to how Government will fill this void of providing legislation that is both forward thinking in regards to sustainability and also being effectively implemented.

The Government is in the process of publishing strategies as to how it aims to counter these changes, where it is up to Government alone to set its own frameworks, targets and processes. Phrases such as a ‘Green Brexit’ have been championed, where Government will not let leaving the European Union come at a detriment to the environment. This will include the following commitments:

  • Overhauling the waste system, cutting plastic pollution and moving the UK to a circular economy
  • Packaging producers paying the full cost of waste treatments, improving household waste recycling and introducing Deposit Return Schemes for cans and bottle
  • Consultations for taxing plastic packaging that does not meet the minimum threshold of 30% recycled content

The Government has launched consultations to ascertain the viewpoints of stakeholders involved in these areas of interest. The consultations will run for 12-weeks and include:

  • Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for drinks containers (bottles and cans)
  • Waste and recycling: making recycling collections consistent in England
  • Packaging waste: changing the UK producer responsibility system for packaging waste
  • Plastic packaging tax

The Government invites comments on each of these topics, helping to bring improvements to UKs waste system, accomplishing a so-called ‘Green Brexit’ in the long-term. The consultations were launched 18th February 2019 and will each run for 3-months.

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Full list of consultations found: