14 December 2018

100 Days until Brexit: What next for environmental policy?

With the Brexit date now almost 100 days away, Paul Taylor, CEO at FCC Environment gives his thoughts on what some of the impacts might be as well as what is happening now.

On 19th December, the UK’s exit from the EU will be only 100 days away. We are all aware that this will have critical implications for businesses currently operating in the UK. For the waste industry, this will mean a complete overhaul of environmental policy, given that most of our current legislation is derived from the EU.

It is therefore unsurprising that in the last few months, the government has focused almost solely on the Brexit negotiation process. It is, of course, imperative that we secure the right deal for Britain, and that Britain’s exit from the EU is as smooth as possible.

Taylor

Paul Taylor, CEO of FCC Environment, considers that Brexit and improving the environment should go “hand in hand”

However, with policymakers completely absorbed by Brexit negotiations, our domestic policy agenda has been allowed to fall by the wayside. While the UK Government fixates on the Brexit ‘deadline’ in March, we are failing to consider the bigger picture: what will post-Brexit Britain actually look like, and what sort of country do we want to build?

Perspective

With Brexit so all-consuming, we risk losing perspective.

Caring for our environment, something which has crept to the top of the public’s agenda, is one such issue. And rightly so: Blue Planet II has got the whole world talking about recycling, leading to a surge of interest in single-use plastic pollution.

To its credit, the government has shown its commitment to tackling this by introducing various measures to combat plastic waste, from the ban on plastic straws to an increase in the plastic bag tax. But this feels tokenistic, and does not begin to scratch the surface of this desperately important issue. Following the IPCC’s recent announcement that greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by 45% to save our planet, Sir David Attenborough described climate change as humanity’s ‘greatest threat’. And yet, this has seemingly fallen on deaf ears here in the UK.

If we truly want to show a commitment to our environment, we need real action from Government that will hold producers to account for the plastic packaging they manufacture, and ensure we have the adequate infrastructure to deal with the waste we produce. Crucially, we must drive up household recycling and reuse rates, so that as little waste as possible ends up in the ground.

Brexit and improving our environment should go hand in hand. This is because Brexit gives us the opportunity to get the right environmental policy in place so we can not only build a waste system that’s fit for the future, but overhaul our entire approach to the environment.

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