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Our Christmas (election) wish list for waste policy

Our Christmas (election) wish list for waste policy

22nd November 2019

This week has seen manifestos launched by the Green party, the Liberal Democrats and now Labour. Our Sustainability team has been working this year to develop a range of reports that can assist the government in informing policy decisions that will create real change from a waste perspective. Below, Oliver Feaver discusses the manifestos against our Christmas (election) wish list for waste policy.

Whatever you think of the tactics of Extinction Rebellion, they’ve helped concern for the environment to rise to an all-time high amongst the UK public. Off the back of some of our recent waste policy research, and considering the strong public support for recycling, we have shortlisted a number of waste priorities we are hoping to see addressed during the campaign and new government: 

  1. A commitment to implementing the waste measures in the Environment Bill, which was prevented from being passed into law by the election.
  2. An end to plastic exports- as called for in our Plastics Packaging Plan, parties should commit to setting a clear date for the end of exports - 2030 at the latest - to drive investment in recycling infrastructure; alongside a commitment to publish an approved list of packaging materials to end recycling confusion for households. We’re pleased to see this has been a priority for parties across the board in the manifestos released so far, particularly with the Green party pledging to ban the production of single-use plastics, broadening the products included in the plastics tax and extending the DRS.
  3. Funding for food waste collections- parties should guarantee long-term funding for Local Authorities to introduce mandatory food waste collections for households across the UK, to reduce the 10 million tonnes of food and drink wasted every year. In their manifesto, Labour have announced their intention to establish a National Food Commission and review the Allotments Act, in order to work with local councils to minimise food waste which is a welcome pledge to tackling this issue.
  4. Standardising waste collections across different Local Authorities- parties should commit to making waste collections consistent across the UK, through making WRAP’s consistency framework mandatory and ensuring that EPR funding for local authorities is conditional on them achieving recycling targets
  5. A UK solution for residual waste management: Landfill capacity is almost full and the UK must deal with its own residual waste as well as increase recycling. Policy Connect are conducting an inquiry into whether Energy from Waste could provide a more sustainable solution than landfill. In particular, the Liberal Democrats have pledged a significantly higher overall recycling rate of 70% as part of their manifesto, however more detail would be welcome on their preferred management of the remaining residual waste. The Green party have also committed to supporting local councils in improving recycling, reducing overall waste and promoting food waste reduction, however, it remains unclear as to how these goals would be achieved.

 

A number of the pledges made in the manifestos look to be promising and we look forward to seeing more detail on how these would be actioned in government. However, thanks to the significant media coverage surrounding the environment, whoever wins December’s election will have to ensure that, amongst other things, sustainability is a key focus and priority for future government policy.