The government has dropped its opposition to more stringent recycling targets and has suggested it may even go beyond EU targets once Britain leaves the EU.
The U-turn comes after an investigation by the Guardian and Greenpeace’s Unearthed unit found that UK officials were opposing an EU-wide target of recycling 65% of all municipal waste by 2035.
DEFRA has subsequently announced the UK will be voting in favour of the new targets and has promised to explore whether they could be raised even further once Britain leaves the EU.
Greenpeace welcomed the U-turn and said the UK needs to get better at recycling as a nation if it wants to stop "offshoring its dirt", starting with plastic. China recently stopped accepting imports of UK plastic waste putting greater pressure on the UK to strengthen its own recycling infrastructure.
“To be effective, recycling should go hand in hand with cutting production of single-use plastic at the source and boosting collection of what's left through initiatives like deposit-return schemes (DRS),” said Greenpeace UK senior oceans campaigner, Louise Edge.
Last month, environment secretary, Michael Gove, announced plans to launch a DRS for plastic, glass and metal drinks containers in England.