Businesses should prepare for measures in the forthcoming Environment Bill to be tougher than the 2019 version, according to one MP.
Addressing this week’s Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) environment seminar, Mark Pawsey, the MP for Rugby and Bulkington, said the government would heed the message from voters on the doorstep in the run up to December’s election that industry should pick up more of the tab for pollution.
This is likely to include further charges on single-use items and changes to the extended producer responsibility (EPR) system that will reduce the cost to the taxpayer of managing post-consumer waste.
Pawsey, who is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Packaging, added that powers for a new environmental regulator are likely to go further than in the previous bill which failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the election.
He said there was recognition in government that a new Office for Environmental Protection should have teeth and not be “too cosy” with industry.
The new Environment Bill is likely to be brought back before Parliament in the next month or two once the Agriculture Bill, which is the government’s priority, has been passed.
Speaking at the same seminar, Defra’s deputy director for resources and waste, Chris Preston, revealed that further consultations will be held on the details of a deposit return scheme (DRS) and reform of the EPR system later this year. He said the government is still considering whether to pursue an ‘all-in’ model or an ‘on-the-go’ model for a DRS, adding that the chosen model would deliver the best environmental outcomes as well as the best value for money.
The Scottish Government laid proposed regulations for a DRS before the Scottish Parliament last September and Janet McVea, head of the government’s zero waste unit, said that conversations would continue with colleagues in Westminster to ensure the best alignment possible between the two schemes.
Preston also reiterated the government’s intention to introduce the ban in England on single-use plastic straws and stirrers in April, despite reports that the date has been pushed back.
In related news, a new report from Eunomia Research & Consulting has raised concerns that loopholes in the EU’s single-use plastics (SUP) directive around the definition of plastic could significantly undermine its goal to reduce environmental impact. Specifically, it said that exempting certain natural polymers with similar environmental impacts from the directive’s scope could incentivise manufacturers to opt for material substitutions which would absolve them from having to finance the cost of litter clean-up, transport and treatment, and the cost of awareness-raising activities.