Queen’s Speech promises extension of producer responsibility

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Queen's Speech
The Queen's Speech taking place at the House of Lords
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The Government plans to extend producer responsibility and introduce charges on more specified single use items, the Queen’s Speech has revealed.

As part of its legislative programme, the Government has said that it will publish its Environment Bill in the next session of Parliament.

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However, with the uncertainty of Brexit, no Government majority and the expectation of a General Election in the coming weeks, it remains to be seen whether this Environment Bill will see the light of day.

The Government, in its document outlining the proposed legislative programme announced in the Queen’s Speech, said its priorities in the bill will include “preserving our stock of material resources by minimising waste, promoting resource efficiency and moving towards a circular economy. These measures include extended producer responsibility, a consistent approach to recycling, tackling waste crime, introducing deposit return schemes and more effective litter enforcement”.

It isn’t clear if this is the measures outlined in the Resources and Waste Strategy although these would be consistent with it. The Strategy isn’t mentioned in the document.

The Government also said it would build on the success of the carrier bag charge by introducing more charges for single use items.

Suez recycling and recovery UK chief executive David Palmer-Jones said: “Plans under the Environment Bill to deal with plastic waste and pollution are to be commended, but these must come hand-in-hand with radical societal reform of our consumption and resource use.

“Producer responsibility schemes, as envisaged by the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, are an essential tool to ensure we move, as a nation, from a throw-away society to a reuse-and-recycle based economy that gives new lives to products we consume – which must go hand-in-hand with efforts to minimise our overall consumption of the planet’s finite resources. 

“An ad hoc, piecemeal, approach to meeting society’s collective challenge to consume fewer virgin materials, and to recycle more, simply won’t deliver the systemic changes needed to deliver on the praiseworthy ambitions of the Environment Act.

“Greater producer and consumer responsibility plays a significant role in reducing our reliance on non-renewable resources. We look to the Environment Act to help give new momentum to the clear economic and environmental case for the greater production of secondary raw materials.

“The timetable for transitioning to a more sustainable UK economy needs now to be put back on track. As a nation we are part of a global community still far too reliant on finite global resources and we cannot afford to delay. The value chain of public, manufacturers, local authorities and recycling organisations are already investing and need to invest more to make this change happen but they need the right regulatory and investment conditions to be delivered by Government now, to be able to deliver change within the timescales envisaged for a new sustainable economy.

“Success depends on all parts of the value chain doing their part, from the need for 90% of the people doing 90% of the right things for recycling 90% of the time, to the design, collection and treatment system working efficiently and effectively. With this high participation we, as a society, can achieve the scale of ambition demanded by the environment and set out by government.”

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