Defra responds to consultations in Environment Bill policy update

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:
New legal standards will be launched to set resource-efficiency standards for products as part of the Environment Bill

New measures to improve the waste system, water supplies and biodiversity have been set out in an update of the Environment Bill.

Following on from six consultations, Defra has published an update on progress towards the Environment Bill, which aims to protect and improve the environment for future generations.

Gove said: "The measures in our Environment Bill will position the UK as a world leader, ensuring that after EU Exit environmental ambition and accountability are placed more clearly than ever before at the heart of government."

The consultations follow on from Defra's Resources & Waste Strategy, published last December.

Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)

The Bill will aim to introduce a DRS across England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 2023, following the feedback of over 200,000 people to the consultation.

This included responses on a deposit return scheme (DRS), extended producer responsibility (EPR) and consistency on household and business recycling.

Defra will hold a second consultation in 2020 on the regulatory framework for introducing a DRS.

Recycling consistency

New legal standards will be developed to create a consistent set of recyclable materials to be collected by all local authorities from households and businesses, supporting frequent collections.

The standards will also develop clear labelling on packaging so citizens can make informed decisions.

Extended producer responsibility

Producers will be expected to pay the full net cost of dealing with their packaging waste as a way to encourage them to develop more recyclable products, with new powers to allow government to set resource-efficient product requirements.

Government said it will ensure that the plastic packaging tax being developed by HM Treasury complements the reforms to the packaging producer responsibility system.

Currently, packaging producers pay just 10% of the cost of dealing with packaging waste.

Defra expects to consult on final proposals for EPR in 2020.

New measures to tackle waste crime will also be looked into, including changing the section 91 Environment Protection Act which would make the process less costly.

A mandatory approach to biodiversity net gain will be introduced which will legally require developers to ensure habitats for wildlife are enhanced, with a 10% increase in habitat for wildlife compared with the pre-development baseline.

Last week, environment secretary Michael Gove warned that time was running out to make the ‘difference we need’ for our planet.

The draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill in December was published in December 2018.

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