On 11th January 2018, Theresa May announced a 25 Year Environment Plan which aims to improve the environment within a generation.
As the UK works towards Brexit, fishing and agricultural policy will be reformed and the Government want to use this opportunity to improve how we care for our land, rivers and seas and to deliver a Green Brexit for the UK.
The plan is more than 150 pages long and looks at many environmental issues and how to deal with them. The Government will set up a Green Business Council and an Independent Green Watchdog to hold the Government to account on green issues. This will help them to deliver the ten main goals of the 25 year plan:
Goals of the 25-year Environment Plan
1. Clean air
2. Clean and plentiful water
3. Thriving plants and wildlife
4. A reduced risk of harm from environmental hazards such as flooding and drought
5. Using resources from nature more sustainably and efficiently
6. Enhanced beauty, heritage and engagement with the natural environment. In addition, we will manage pressures on the environment by:
7. Mitigating and adapting to climate change
8. Minimising waste
9. Managing exposure to chemicals
10. Enhancing bio-security
Zero Plastic Waste by 2042One of the key policies (and one that has received the most attention in the media) is that to reduce all single use plastic and unavoidable plastic waste by 2042. It is estimated that 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the 1950s and the majority of that has gone into landfill or is polluting our oceans. Without urgent action to address this, this figure will reach 34 billion tonnes by 2050.
Will the 5p Bag Charge Be Extended?
The 5p bag charge has been a huge success and plastic bag use has reduced by 85%* since it was introduced in England alone. In a short space of time, it has completely changed consumers attitudes to consuming single-use plastic and changed habits as more people carry and use, reusable shopping bags. It has also contributed £66 million to charity.
Currently, the bag charge in England is only applicable to retailers with more than 250 employees. The Government plans to extend the update of the 5p plastic bag charge to small retailers too. They will explore whether compulsory options are needed if voluntary agreements prove ineffective.
It has also been announced that the Government will work with research councils to ensure all plastic bags adhere to a biodegradable standard. There is no further news whether the types of single use plastic bags that are currently exempt will now be included. A Government consultation is expected, the date of which is yet to be announced.
Other Key Policies to Reduce Plastic Waste
Plastic Free Supermarket Aisles: The Government will work with WRAP to create aisles where products are free from plastic packaging and/or can be bought loose.
Water Refill Points: Introducing places to refill your plastic water bottle in all towns and cities in England. This should cut plastic waste drastically.
Waste Strategy: Making the most of the resources we have, cutting waste and improving recycling rates.
It's great to hear that the government are concerned about our environment and are taking steps to protect it. Exactly how these changes will effect
retailers and other businesses will become clearer as the consultations move forward.
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