Waste and resources now high risk policy area following Brexit

4th October 2017 | Recycling

The UK’s waste and resources sector has been upgraded to a “high risk” environmental policy area on Greener UK’s Brexit Risk Tracker, as Defra admits that the UK would likely be unable to meet any European recycling targets for 2030, though it expects to take on legislation decreed by the European Union’s Circular Economy Package.

Greener UK, a coalition of 13 major environmental organisations, published the first assessment from its Brexit Risk Tracker, a tool set up to reflect the risks to environmental policy throughout the Brexit process, back in June 2017, with the latest update covering June to September 2017.

Previously considered a medium risk policy area, waste and resources had been upgraded to a high risk sector. Despite Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s recent announcement that his department would be working on a renewed strategy for waste and resources, the coalition says the outlook for waste and resources remains highly uncertain, contributing to its increased risk.

Factors contributing to the sector’s higher rating include Defra’s prediction that it will not reach the 60 to 0 per cent recycling targets due to be set for 2030 by the EU’s Circular Economy Package, saying they are “too high to be achievable”, and the fact that the UK is currently on course to miss its 2020 targets.

The department is also set to see at 15 per cent reduction in its resource spending between 2015 and 2020, while the government still insists that the UK will be leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), an institution that provides crucial oversight for environmental protections.

Talking to Resource about the decision to upgrade the level of risk attributed to the waste and resources sector, Libby Peake, Senior Policy Advisor in Resource Stewardship at environmental think tank Green Alliance, which hosts the Greener UK unit, said, “Greener UK’s latest update of its Risk Tracker has seen the level of concern about the impact of Brexit on environmental protection increase overall due to the shortcomings of the government’s Withdrawal Bill. The reason the rating on waste policy has gone into the red zone is because there are worrying signed that Defra’s upcoming waste and resources strategy will be less ambitious than EU policy.”

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