Brexit risks the UK backsliding on key waste and recycling targets, a think tank has warned.
Green Alliance said that with the EU’s current recycling targets due to expire in 2020 and no promise to replace them in the UK, progress could slip on recycling provision and lead to the reopening of landfills.
It urged the government to adopt the same waste and recycling targets as the EU for 2030 and set additional goals for commercial and industrial waste and resource productivity.
The report also called on the government to mandate separate food waste collections for treatment through anaerobic digestion in order to meet its commitment to send no food waste to landfill by 2030.
The study, which was commissioned by the business group, the Circular Economy Task Force, examined environmental challenges facing the government from Brexit and assessed the risks.
Other risks identified included reduced protection from harmful chemicals if the UK leaves REACH (the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals), which some experts believe would be impossible to replace.
Furthermore, Green Alliance stated that no longer applying EU eco-design standards in the UK risks opening up the domestic market to substandard products from other countries, undercutting UK businesses which would still have to maintain current standards in order to trade with countries in the EU.
It also called for the UK to institute a producer funded deposit return scheme for single use beverage containers, and reform other packaging and product rules to make polluters pay more.
“We’re at a crossroads – we can either improve our protections and use of resources or revert to simple waste management. The wrong decisions could harm our environment, businesses and citizens,” said Libby Peake, senior policy adviser on resources at Green Alliance.