15 January 2020 by James Langley

Pow reiterates council funding pledge

Recycling minister Rebecca Pow has reiterated that councils will receive “additional resources” to meet the net costs arising from policies set out in the Resources and Waste Strategy.

Ms Pow was responding to a question from Scott Lloyd Benton, the Conservative MP for Blackpool South, who asked what steps Defra was taking to tackle rubbish and plastic waste on beaches and what support her department is giving to local authorities to enable them to tackle that waste.

Rebecca Pow has been recycling minister since September 2019

While greater detail will be included in the Environment Bill, which is expected to be reintroduced later this month, Ms Pow pledged to ensure that councils receive additional funding.

“The Government consulted on a number of key policy measures set out in the Resources and Waste Strategy: reforming existing packaging waste regulations; exploring the introduction of a deposit return scheme for drinks containers; increasing consistency in the recycling system; and introducing a tax on plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content,” she said.

Ms Pow added: “These measures will help to tackle plastic waste, including on beaches and will be brought forward in the forthcoming Environment Bill and future finance bills.

“Government recognises the financial pressures on local authorities. They will therefore receive additional resource to meet new net costs arising from the policies set out in this Strategy once implemented.”

While the Environment Bill passed a second reading in October, it fell at the dissolution of parliament for the 2019 General Election.

Beaches

The minister also touched on plastic waste on beaches more specifically, saying local councils were responsible for keeping their relevant land – including beaches above mean high water springs – clear of litter and refuse, so far as is practicable.

She referred to the Litter Innovation Fund, launched in 2017, saying it had made nearly £500,000 available to councils and others to pilot and test small-scale innovative approaches to reducing litter.

Plastic

Earlier this week, Ms Pow also explained the ways in which the Resources and Waste Strategy was to tackle plastic waste in response to a question from Labour MP for Easington Grahame Morris, who asked the secretary of state for Defra Theresa Villiers what steps she was taking to reduce plastic pollution and increase plastic recycling.

The Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy for England was published in December 2018

Ms Pow said: “The Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy for England, published in December 2018, sets out our plans to reduce, reuse, and recycle more plastic than we do now.

“Our target is to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste throughout the lifetime of the 25 Year Environment Plan, but for the most problematic plastics we are going faster – that is why we are working towards all plastic packaging placed on the market being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.”

With the Environment Bill’s expected reintroduction, a House of Commons Library briefing paper on plastic waste in the UK was published last week (see letsrecycle.com story).

The briefing is intended to provide an overview to MPs on the issue of plastic waste in Britain today .

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