Plastics Update (UK)

The UK Government has been consulting on “the plastics problem”. This consultation has just concluded. The document is here (it is mostly the consultation responses) :

The government response is (stated in the document) :

(1) The government is developing a new strategy on resources and waste that looks ahead at opportunities outside the EU. This will set out the detail of how the government will meet the ambitions for resources and waste that are set out in the Clean Growth Strategy, the Industrial Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan.

(2) The aim of the strategy will be to make the UK “a world leader in resource efficiency and resource productivity”, and “increase competitiveness”. It will set out how the government will work towards ambitions of doubling resource productivity and zero avoidable waste by 2050, maximising the value extracted from resources and minimising waste and the associated negative environmental impacts.

(3) The strategy will be published this year, as will a consultation on the reform of the packaging waste regulations and a deposit return scheme for beverage containers.

Please note : household waste recycling is already adrift of the 2020 recycling targets, and I posted earlier about the EU waste law changes (enacted, changing existing EU waste directives, including the packaging and packaging waste directive, with forward dates – the EU Combined Cycle law) that increase recycling targets further.

Single-use Plastics (Global)

Various initiatives and legal instruments are already in place or announced :

NOTE : I will update this post online (please keep a note, to check online, as you will not receive an email)

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Ireland, UK, France, Canadian cities, US cities, Mexico local bans, Brazil local bans, etc – plastic bags – see August 2017 roundup (Reuters) – here

Kenya plastic bag ban – here

France ban, Scotland (proposal), UK (consultation later in 2018), Costa Rica (proposal) – cotton buds, cutlery, other plastic products

England, Scotland, Wales – microbeads ban (certain products)

EU Strategy on Plastics (separate post) – includes a new proposed Directive on Port Reception Facilities

EU proposals on 10 single-use plastics bans (separate post)

UK consultation (concluded) on tax measures

UNEP (at UNEA-3) non-binding Resolution Marine Litter and Microplastics

China ban on imports of plastic waste for recycling from developed countries (I posted about this)

Extensions to Packaging Producer Responsibility (UK)

Anna McMorrin has today (13th June) introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill to extend the existing Packaging Producer Responsibility arrangements.

Information is set out here – LabourList.

I will update this post, as further information is forthcoming (including the Bill wording). So please make a note to return to this post online, as an email will not be sent out.

NB: Ten Minute Rule Bills are a type of Private Members’ Bills. To become law, a Private Members’ Bill must be taken up by the Government.

Single-use plastics : new rules proposed (EU)

The European Commission is proposing new EU-wide rules to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear.

The proposed new rules (if agreed) will introduce :

(1) Plastic ban in certain products: Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market. The ban will apply to plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons which will all have to be made exclusively from more sustainable materials instead. Single-use drinks containers made with plastic will only be allowed on the market if their caps and lids remain attached;

(2) Consumption reduction targets: Member States will have to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drinks cups. They can do so by setting national reduction targets, making alternative products available at the point of sale, or ensuring that single-use plastic products cannot be provided free of charge;

(3) Obligations for producers: Producers will help cover the costs of waste management and clean-up, as well as awareness raising measures for food containers, packets and wrappers (such as for crisps and sweets), drinks containers and cups, tobacco products with filters (such as cigarette butts), wet wipes, balloons, and lightweight plastic bags. The industry will also be given incentives to develop less polluting alternatives for these products;

(4) Collection targets: Member States will be obliged to collect 90% of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2025, for example through deposit refund schemes;

(5) Labelling Requirements: Certain products will require a clear and standardised labelling which indicates how waste should be disposed, the negative environmental impact of the product, and the presence of plastics in the products. This will apply to sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons;

(6) Awareness-raising measures: Member States will be obliged to raise consumers’ awareness about the negative impact of littering of single-use plastics and fishing gear as well as about the available re-use systems and waste management options for all these products.

The Commission’s proposals will now go to the European Parliament and Council for adoption.

NOTE : some EU member states already have legislation in place or planned, for part or all of these measures.

See here, for the European Commission press release.

25-yr Environment Plan (UK)

The UK issued a few moments ago, its long awaited 25-yr Environment Plan. The Plan is here.

I will update this post on the Blog here with the Plan key commitments, targets and schedules. Please note, the updates will not be sent as emails to your inbox (the original post is emailed). So make a note, to check back on the Blog post itself.

UPDATE

Pledges :

(1) eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042,

(2) remove exceptions in England plastic bag regulations [the latest amendment to the EU Packaging and Packing Waste Directive stipulates measures on plastic bags by end 2018, plus the European Commission’s Plastics Strategy is announced next week – I will write a separate Blog post about it],

(2)(a) consultation in a charge for single-use plastic containers,

(3) protect ancient woodland and plant more trees, a new Tree Champion to be appointed after the National Planning Policy Framework is updated,

(4) retain strong targets for wildlife, water and air,

(5) “polluter pays” and “public money for public goods” as guiding principles for future farming policy (plus subsidy reform from 2024 (2022-2024 consultation) – this may be set out in the forthcoming Brexit Agriculture Bill),

(6) sustainable drainage to make cities safer from floods – new planning guidelines,

(7) healthcare that takes advantage of green prescriptions – preventative care that can make the most of “natural health service”,

(8) nature integrated in urban communities – net nature gain in new developments (possibly via the revamp of the National Planning Policy Framework,

(9) a new Watchdog to hold government to account – a new environment body to replace the activities of the EU’s Commission and Courts (this was an earlier DEFRA announcement – see recent Blog posts – the next step is consultation),

(10) nature targets (little detail),

(11) “leave the environment in a better state than they found it”, “the goals of our 25 year environment plan are simple: clean air, clean and plentiful water, plants and animals which are thriving, and a cleaner, greener country for us all. A better world for each of us to live in and a better future for the next generation.”,

(12) a miscellany of other pledges with little attached detail.

Note : the objectives in the plan itself add relatively little to the European and international commitments the UK is already signed up to.

But : the UK is meant to achieve good ecological status for all water bodies by the mid 2020s under the EU Water Framework Directive. The commitment in this 25-yr plan to achieve good water quality “as soon as practicable” is a lesser target.

Also : there is no mention of implementation of the forthcoming EU Circular Economy amendments to six existing Waste Directives.

Plus : there is no mention of the EU “precautionary principle’, particularly relevant to chemicals.

Plastic Microbeads in Cosmetics Ban (UK)

UPDATE 3rd August : the 2017 Regulations are now notified to the EU and to the WTO. The EU notification gives detail, and is here

A few days ago, the DEFRA Secretary of State confirmed the UK will introduce a ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products. Following consultation, the proposals are summarised :

(1) the ban on manufacture (England) will start 1st Jan 2018 and the ban on sale (England) will start 30th June 2018

(2) precise definitions of “microbead”, “plastic” and “rinse-off personal care product” have been developed to clearly define the scope of the ban

(3) the scope of rinse-off products will be as set out in the consultation, but DEFRA is additionally working with the Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee (HSAC) to assess the case for addressing further categories of products

(4) Trading Standards will be the regulator to manage compliance and enforcement in England

(5) enforcement in England will be carried out through a range of sanctions including variable monetary penalties, compliance notices, stop notices and enforcement undertakings

(6) the Devolved Administrations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) will consider appropriate enforcement mechanisms, regulators and timescales according to devolution settlements.

The summary of DEFRA responses is here.

Legislation is expected by the end of 2017. This is a UK initiative, and is unconnected with the EU. 

Microbeads New Legislation (UK)

The UK government is consulting, with the objective of new legislation by October 2017, to ban the sale and marketing of cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads that may harm the marine environment.

Notification of the new legislation will be by email. 

The consultation supporting document (that sets out the detail) is here.