The government has reiterated plans to charge for single-use plastic items as part of package of measures to tackle waste set out in the Queen’s Speech.
Plans to extend producer responsibility, ensure a consistent approach to recycling and introduce deposit return schemes also feature in the new Environment Bill.
The government will create a new independent public body – the Office for Environmental Protection – which will hold government and other public bodies to account on fulfilling their obligations on the environment.
The office’s powers will cover all climate change legislation and provide oversight of the commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. It will also ensure long-term legally binding targets on biodiversity, air quality, water, and resource and waste efficiency established under the bill are met. These are likely to include legally-binding targets to reduce plastics.
The government said the bill signalled “a historic step change in the way we protect and enhance our precious natural environment”.
On the proposed plastic tax, it said that powers to introduce new charges on single-use products with less than 30% recycled content would minimise the use and impacts of single use plastics. It said that additional measures will extend responsibility for waste disposal to those who produce it, reducing waste in the long term as well as creating incentives for the reuse of material, and moving towards a more circular economy.
Consultations have already been held on a range of policy proposals around waste management with the government saying in July that is was minded to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) from 2023.