EU accused of ‘watering down’ waste reduction policy as Brexit Britain to help clean Earth

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The Government has promised to ensure that all packaging in the UK will be recyclable or reusable by 2025, and will strive to eliminate all “avoidable” waste of any kind by 2050. They also highlighted the idea of a circular economy, which is an economic model that’s rooted in healthy environmental policies like reusing, recycling and ensuring that every product is as sustainable as possible.

In a new report titled ‘The Benefits of Brexit: How the UK is taking advantage of leaving the EU’, the Government laid out its plan for “delivering cleaner air for all, creating thousands of hectares of new habitat, halting the decline in nature and reducing waste to create a circular economy”.

The report reads: “In addition to acting and leading on climate change, we will set legally-binding targets to clean up the country’s air, restore natural habitats, increase biodiversity, reduce waste, make better use of our resources and halt the decline in species by 2030, helping to reverse declines of iconic British species like the hedgehog, red squirrel and water vole.

“Delivering our environmental targets will stimulate innovation and economic growth, helping to create and support green jobs.

“We are now able to design a framework for doing so that specifically supports the UK and its priorities.”

The Government also highlighted the progress it has already made in tackling environmental degradation, which includes banning the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, and increasing the plastic bag charge to 10p across all retailers.

They said: “We have just passed our world-leading Environment Act 2021– now it is time to deliver on it.”

The report promised to make: “all plastic packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025” along with eliminating “all avoidable waste of any kind” by 2050.

It said: “We will deliver a circular economy where it is easier to reuse and recycle, protecting the environment, reducing our reliance on imports and protecting UK resources.

“We will take steps to ensure all councils recycle properly, making it easier for people to do the right thing with their waste, no matter where they live.”

This plan by the Government is far more ambitious than the EU’s current proposed legislation around plastics and waste management.

Environmental groups have slammed the EU for “watering down” recycling plans in their proposed Green Taxonomy last April.

Zero Waste Europe has argued that the bloc has lost ambition on chemical recycling, which is a series of processes that allow breaking down plastics into essential chemical components. 

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Speaking to EURACTIV, Janek Vahk from Zero Waste Europe said: “It’s clear that there has been a last-minute push-back to water down the technical criteria.

“Chemical recycling should only be used as a last resort for currently hard-to-recycle plastic waste.”

But Brussels says that the progressive reduction of fossil fuel-based plastics remains one of its top priorities.

EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said: The biggest topic is, at the end of the day, oil use for plastic production.

“If we want to reach our decarbonisation goals for 2050, clearly we have to decrease steadily the use of fossil fuels, and one of the areas here as well is plastics.”

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