Could a no deal Brexit be a golden opportunity for the UK’s green economy?

19th October 2018 | Commercial Energy

The Government’s latest updates, published late last week, confirmed that a scenario in which the UK fails to reach a withdrawal agreement with the EU would involve changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), eco-design standards, commercial fishing regulation, waste management and the cross-border trade of electricity and gas. The updates reveal that the UK’s energy sector could be among the most severely affected in a “no-deal” scenario, confirming that “European energy law will no longer apply to the UK and the UK’s electricity markets will be decoupled from the Internal Energy Market”.

In terms of waste management, import and export licenses issued by the UK would no longer be valid for shipments of waste to the remaining EU countries under a “no-deal” scenario, the document states. Concerns have been raised by many in the waste industry, including Suez’s director of external affairs Adam Read, who recently told ITV, “No deal’s not good, not good for us, [the] transition period will be very scary. “What do we do on that day one? What happens? Where does that material go? We can have logjams in the system operating with Europe and beyond. We need a plan.”

Green economy

However, resource sustainability firm TOMRA has taken a more optimistic view on the updates, claiming that a “no-deal” scenario could provide a boost to the UK’s circular economy efforts. The updates confirm that the government may impose a tax of up to 7.5% on waste exports in the even of a “no-deal”, which, coupled with potential issues with ports and currency exchange rates, may make exporting waste to the EU economically unviable.

These changes – compounded by the recent ban on imports of millions of tonnes of plastic waste by the Chinese government – have given policymakers and the waste management industry the ideal platform to overhaul recycling standards and infrastructure, TOMRA’s chief executive Stefan Ranstrand has claimed. “Through every challenge, there is a chance to look at the way we do things and how we can improve them,” Ranstand said.

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