As the UK leaves the European Union which brought in the Waste Framework Directive from which much of the UK’s waste legislation derives, the Environment Bill has been formally published by the government.
Given an automatic First Reading yesterday (30 January) without discussion, the Bill now moves to a Second Reading although no date has yet been announced for this. The Bill is short on detail of what will actually change, especially in terms of producer responsibility, with measures mainly in place to give ministers relevant powers; for example there are paragraphs on producer responsibility in Part 3, the waste and resource efficiency chapter, but little detail.
Attention for the waste and recycling sector is instead likely to also focus on detailed consultation documents, which will reflect government thinking, and these are due out in the early summer or before.
The Environment Bill can be seen on the Parliament website HERE (opens as a PDF).
Alongside the Bill, a detailed policy statement has been issued setting out the rationale for various environmental measures covering key topics such as waste management and air quality.
The statement emphasises how the Bill will move the economy towards a “more circular economic model”.
There will be clauses to set out minimum ecodesign for products and measures to support “a shift towards durable, repairable and recyclable products, and banning those products or packaging which cannot be reused or recycled (where appropriate).”
Confirmation of perhaps the most radical changes which will impact on waste and recycling – a revamp of the PRN system – comes in the document which says that “Powers in the Environment Bill to introduce new extended producer responsibility schemes will enable us to reform our existing producer responsibility arrangements and introduce new schemes in the future. Extended producer responsibility schemes seek to make producers responsible for the full net costs of managing their products at end of life. The powers provide for modulated fees that incentivise producers to design their products with re-use and recycling in mind, as those that make their products easier to recycle will pay less.”
And, developing policy thinking on waste exports is also signalled. Much of this is down to concerns about the alleged and real illegal dumping of waste overseas which has attracted media attention.
The policy paper says that “The Bill contains powers which will allow government to stop the export of waste, including polluting plastic waste, to developing countries. We will consult with industry, NGOs and local authorities on any specific restrictions or prohibitions.”
From this it is clear that measures could also be imposed around the export of materials in addition to plastics although details are scant at present.
The Environment Bill Policy Paper, can be seen HERE.