The recycling and waste management sector has generally responded positively to publication of the Environment Bill subsequent to it being announced in the Queen’s Speech in October. Most commentators welcomed the Bill although there were calls to make sure it progressed and, in particular, delivered fully on the proposal for an Office for Environmental Protection.
However, the Bill’s progress could be disrupted in the coming months with the odds of an early election shortening.
In her speech, Her Majesty the Queen confirmed plans for the Environment Bill and said it will look to, among other things, improve air and water quality, to tackle plastic pollution and “restore habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive”.
This was followed by the Bill itself being laid before parliament, the first major act of the recently appointed Environment Secretary, Theresa Villiers.
The 244-page bill set out a framework for future environmental ambition and accountability and aims to put the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan on a statutory footing.
Full net costs
For the waste and recycling industry some of the standout features included requiring producers to pay the “full net costs” of treating their waste products at end of life while also enshrining environmental legislation from various EU and worldwide treaties into law.
However, crucial questions remain over how many of the provisions in the Bill – including cost recovery – will work on the ground, with the Bill merely providing a legal framework for many changes to be made.
Despite questions over how it will be implemented, the Bill was widely welcomed by a variety of industry figures after its release who said it will “shake up the waste and recycling sector” and provide a platform for investment.
This could be slowed or derailed however by the ongoing Brexit negotiations over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposed date, and any potential delay to the UK’s exit.
As with many aspects of UK legislation right now though, the future of legislation in the waste and recycling sector, along with the wider environment, remains a little unclear although should there even be a change of government, there is an expectation that environmental legislation will still be progressed.