What does the election mean for recycling legislation?

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I think we were all a bit surprised by the announcement of the General Election last week – not least many members of the Government! 

Most people were working on an assumption that it would be some time in the Autumn.  

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As a result of it coming early, it has a potentially big impact on legislation and regulation that we were expecting to go through Parliament in the coming weeks and months. 

Policy areas such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), Simpler Recycling, Deposit Return Schemes and the rules on changes from site exemptions to permits are all in doubt. 

Essentially, the Statutory Instruments to kick these off for the first three of these were due to go before Parliament goes on holiday from 22 July until early September and the latter sometime before Autumn. But they were not included in the wash-up that happened to rush through legislation before Parliament was prorogued last Friday. 

What does this mean for all of these bits of legislation? Essentially, we don’t know. Technically, it could be that all of the work done over the last six years or so on EPR, DRS and Simpler Recycling etc is dead. Whoever wins the General Election may decide they have other priorities and don’t find the Parliamentary time. 

Realistically, I can’t see that being the case. This hasn’t been a big party-political issue where there have been big differences between the main parties. The work has already been done by Defra and is ready for implementation.  

However, a new Minister may decide they want to alter some of the policy positions once they get behind their new desk in Westminster and that will cause delay. I could imagine a new Minister may look at Simpler Recycling in England for example to give more consistency across the UK, but I don’t know for sure. We’ll maybe have a better idea when manifestos are published, but sometimes they can also be quite vague when it comes to ambitions.  

Inevitably there will be a pause because of simple timings. The new Parliament will meet for the first time on 9 July and the first few days will be taken up with MPs swearing oaths to the King. As mentioned above, Parliament then goes on recess from 22 July and doesn’t meet again until September and that will only be for a few days before the Party Conference season starts.  

Realistically, whoever forms the Government is going to be kicking off most of its new legislative programme from October. Inevitably, the priorities will be whatever the Government highlighted in its manifesto. 

Therefore, when it comes to EPR, DRS, Simpler Recycling and the permitting legislation, I think this will all happen eventually in some form, but it is all going to be delayed again.