United Kingdom leader vows Brexit won't weaken environmental standards

Plastics and other detritus line the shore of the Thames Estuary Kent UK. Dan Kitwood  Getty Images
Plastics and other detritus line the shore of the Thames Estuary Kent UK. Dan Kitwood Getty Images
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13 January, 2018

By leading the world in setting such a target for the end to plastic pollution, Mrs May will sat that the United Kingdom is "demonstrating global leadership [that] will also do more to help developing nations tackle pollution and reduce plastic waste, including through United Kingdom aid". "And that includes government".

Vanden Recycling welcome proposals that include local markets returning high quality materials back to the economy, as well as stimulating internal United Kingdom markets for recycled products, but also recognising the importance of strong secondary material export markets. He also pointed to the detail within the plan which shows that Government has taken on board some of the challenges faced by the recycling sector.

The issue is set to be further complication by the recent decision to ban the importation of solid waste including plastic by China, where the vast majority of Ireland's plastic waste now ends up.

Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO said: "Our health is directly related to the health of the environment we live in". Then, it was global warming; now, it is a crusade against plastic.

At the moment shops with under 250 employees are exempt from the charge, which was introduced in England in October 2015.

There was no confirmation in the PM's speech of a suggested 25p charge on the millions of disposable coffee cups used each year - of which only a tiny percentage get recycled. A spokesman said: "The FPA is already working closely with the government, Defra and various Committees to develop understanding of alternative ways of achieving the same objectives particularly the reform of the UK's Producer Responsibility mechanism the PRN system".

Andrew Opie, director of food policy at the British Retail Consortium, the trade association for United Kingdom retailers, explained that the retail industry wants to see a holistic approach to the environment and resources.

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The Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) said it supported the elimination of the minimum retailer size threshold but stood by the argument it put forward when the plastic carrier bag charge was originally proposed that an exemption for hot, ready to eat take-away food on hygiene grounds was fully justified.

According to Government sources, the extension of the levy would be a matter for a consultation later this year, but that the ambition would be for all shops to be covered.

Meanwhile, the British Takeaway Campaign said the Prime Minister's plans "would lead to increased costs for consumers and hurt the many small and independent businesses". He added: "There was much to welcome".

The plan was a 2015 Conservative manifesto pledge, but publication was delayed by the vote to leave the European Union and last year's election.

Martin Baxter, chief policy adviser at the IMEA added that the Plan could be a good sign for a "green Brexit".

Some campaigners have warned about the loss of European environmental standards once the United Kingdom leaves the EU, but Mrs May promised a new "world leading" body to hold the government to account on environmental issues. "This is the right ambition, setting us apart from a race to the bottom that would only end badly for the United Kingdom".


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