Environment Bill and food waste funding updates from Government
30th January 2020
DEFRA announced the speedy return of the Environment Bill to Parliament today (30th January) following the General Election. This, they say, underlines the government’s commitment to tackling climate change and to protecting and restoring our natural environment for future generations.
They have outlined two additions to the Bill:
• Powers to stop the exports of polluting plastic waste to developing countries: Today’s Bill includes a power which will enable the government to deliver its pledge to ban or restrict the export of polluting plastic waste to non-OECD countries. Government will consult with industry, NGOs, and local authorities on specific restrictions or prohibitions.
• A two-yearly review of the significant developments in international legislation on the environment to ensure developments are taken into account in driving forward environmental protection legislation. The Government will publish a report of the significant developments in international legislation on the environment every two years and ensure its findings are factored into the Environmental Improvement Plan and environmental target setting process, both of which will be enshrined in law.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said:
“We are facing climate change and our precious natural environment is under threat. We need to take decisive action.
“We have set out our pitch to be a world leader on the environment as we leave the EU and the Environment Bill is a crucial part of achieving this aim. It sets a gold standard for improving air quality, protecting nature, increasing recycling and cutting down on plastic waste.
“This will build on the UK’s strong track record as the first major economy to commit to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and will drive further action in this super year for the environment, culminating in the UK welcoming the world to the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in November in Glasgow.”
Reacting to this, Aldersgate Group (of which EAUC is a member) Executive Director, Nick Molho, said: “Improving the state of the natural environment is essential to support a resilient and competitive economy, improve our ability to adapt to climate change and deliver much needed negative emissions to achieve the UK’s net zero target. Businesses have been keen to play an important role in this, but lack of clarity about future policy has deterred investment flowing towards the natural environment to date. That’s why we welcome the re-introduction of the Environment Bill today and the creation of a process to set legally binding long-term targets, backed up by environmental improvement plans.
“The return of the Environment Bill sends an important signal to business, but more clarity is needed to ensure private sector investment rapidly materialises alongside ambitious government action. In particular, the Bill needs to clearly set out the expected ambition of future targets and how they will be set, provide for environmental improvements in each priority areas to be delivered in a cohesive way, and establish a more robust framework to incentivise successive governments to deliver on shorter-term interim targets as is the case under the Climate Change Act, where interim carbon budgets are legally binding.”
Nick Molho added: “In addition to a clear sense of direction, businesses value the reassurance provided by an independent and effective regulatory enforcement regime. We welcome the broad enforcement powers provided to the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) and the inclusion of climate legislation within these, but believe its independence needs strengthening in the Bill. Parliament should be given a key role in scrutinising the appointment of the OEP Chair and we would welcome greater clarity in the Bill on the OEP’s multi-year budget.”
Government also announced new grants to fight food waste today.
Businesses and not-for-profits in England will benefit from £1.15 million of funding to help them come up with creative new ways to tackle food waste by changing people’s behaviour or transforming it into other materials.
From educating the public on how to store fresh food, to ideas such as turning food waste into new, edible products, grants will be available for creative solutions to address this pressing environmental challenge.
The government’s Food Waste Champion, Ben Elliot, also announced today he will hold the first ever ‘Food Waste Action Week’ from Monday 11 May and called on households and businesses across the country to join forces to reduce food waste.
With 4.5 million tonnes of food wasted every year, the new grants are the latest step in the government’s drive to reduce food waste in the UK by 20% by 2025 and form part of a wider £15 million scheme to specifically address surplus food from the retail and manufacturing sectors.