Documents to download

Plastic production has increased substantially over the past 50 years. If improperly managed, plastic waste can leak into the environment and pollute the oceans, posing a threat to marine wildlife and ocean ecosystems.

The UK has a number of policies in place to promote plastic recycling and limit environmental damage. The overarching framework of such policies is set by EU Directive 2008/98/EC on waste (Waste Framework Directive), which requires member states to have waste management policies in place and sets targets for recycling. In England, local authorities are responsible for household waste. In fulfilment of the EU Packaging and Waste Directive, the UK also places obligations on producers to ensure that a specified proportion of their plastic packaging is recycled. Packaging waste is also subject to separate EU targets; the UK is currently on course to meet the targets for 2025.  Current UK recycling policy has been criticised for focusing on the collection of materials but failing to develop the domestic reprocessing industry or pursue policies that aim to increase demand for recycled materials.

The Government is expected to publish a new Resource and Waste Strategy before the end of 2018, but several policies which are expected to be included have already been announced. These include:

  • A commitment to work towards eliminating avoidable waste by 2050 and all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.
  • Reform of the packaging producer responsibility scheme.
  • The introduction of a deposit return scheme.
  • A new tax on plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30 percent recycled content.

Documents to download

Related posts

  • Hungry for Change: Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment Committee report

    In July 2020, the House of Lords Food, Poverty and the Environment Committee published its report: ‘Hungry for Change: Fixing the Failures in Food’. The committee found that the UK’s food system—the production, manufacture, retail and consumption of food—“is failing”. It made a series of recommendations built around the central aim of ensuring that everyone, regardless of income, has access to a healthy and sustainable diet.

    Hungry for Change: Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment Committee report
  • Environment Bill: Briefing for Lords Stages

    The Environment Bill would establish a new environmental governance system, including the setting of long-term targets and the creation of an Office for Environmental Protection. It also includes measures on improving air quality, waste management and recycling, water management, biodiversity and conservation covenants. The bill is due to have it second reading in the House of Lords on 7 June 2021, having been carried over from the last session.

    Environment Bill: Briefing for Lords Stages
  • Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL]

    The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL] would enshrine the recognition of the sentience of vertebrate animals in domestic law. It would also establish an animal sentience committee that would report on whether government policymaking considers that animals are sentient beings capable of feeling emotions and experiencing pain.

    Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL]