25 November 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Conservatives outline recycling pledges

The Conservative Party has outlined a string of measures relating to the waste and recycling industry in its 2019 manifesto, which it launched yesterday (24 November). 

One of the major pledges was a vow to end the export of plastic to non-OECD countries, and the document said a consultation will be held with councils, government organisations and the recycling industry to determine when this will take pace.

Boris Johnson unveiling his manifesto at the party’s launch event in Telford

The OECD – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 36 member countries, predominantly in Europe.

The move means there is now cross-party support to limit waste plastic exports after similar moves by the Lib Dems and the Labour Party.

Packaging recycling data published by the Environment Agency suggests that as much as 500,000 tonnes of plastic packaging was exported for recycling in 2018, compared to around 280,000 tonnes processed in the UK.

The Conservative pledge came as the party said it will “continue to lead the world in tackling plastics pollution, both in the UK and internationally”.

Environment Bill

Under the heading ‘Stewards of our environment’, the manifesto also pointed to the Environment Bill, which had passed the second reading in the House of Commons before parliament was dissolved for the election.

It included measures such as powers to introduce more producer responsibility for waste, more consistent recycling collections, tackling waste crime and a bottle deposit return scheme.

“Our Environment Bill will guarantee that we will protect and restore our natural environment after leaving the EU. Because conservation has always been at the very heart of Conservatism,” the manifesto said.

Targets

The Conservative Party reiterated its pledge to set up an independent Office for Environmental Protection and to introduce legal targets, including for air quality.

The manifesto also added that a Conservative government would introduce a new levy to increase the proportion of recyclable plastics in packaging as well extended producer responsibility legislation  “so that producers pay the full costs of dealing with the waste they produce, and boost domestic recycling”.

The Conservative Party later tweeted this to highlight its pledge

On banning the export of plastic waste, it said: “We will ban the export of plastic waste to non-OECD countries, consulting with industry, NGOs and local councils on the date by which this should be achieved.

“We will crack down on the waste and carelessness that destroys our natural environment and kills marine life. We will increase penalties for fly-tipping, make those on community sentences clean up their parks and streets, and introduce a deposit return scheme to incentivise people to recycle plastic and glass.”

Blue planet fund

Other pledges relating to the Environment include a new £500 million Blue Planet Fund to “help protect our oceans from plastic pollution, warming sea temperatures and overfishing”, and extend the Blue Belt programme to preserve the maritime environment.

Speaking at the launch event yesterday, there was no mentioned from of recycling policies from Boris Johnson, with the focus was largely on Brexit, taxes and the NHS.

However, a statement on the party’s website said vowed to reach “Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution”.

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