25-year plan is another helpful step in the dance, but ambitions must be turned into actions, says CIWM

Posted On: 
11th January 2018

Responding to the publication today of Defra’s 25-year Environment Plan, CIWM has said the momentum that is building behind the Government’s ambitions on waste and resource productivity is encouraging but warns that it will require more than words.

“The 25-year Plan has been a long time in the making and might be somewhat light on detail about delivery, but what we are seeing is a step change in the government’s approach to waste and resource policy,” says CIWM chief executive Dr Colin Church. “It started with the ambition expressed in the Clean Growth Strategy to achieve zero avoidable waste by 2050, was built upon in the Industrial Strategy White Paper’s aim to double resource productivity by 2050, and has been strengthened by Michael Gove’s recent commitment to setting up an environmental governance body that would hold the government to account for upholding environmental standards in England.

“What we have today in the 25-year plan, among other initiatives, is an ambition to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042 and an important commitment to explore how the tax system or charges can be used to further reduce the amount of waste created – an indication that the government’s attitude to using fiscal levers and incentives is changing. At a more fundamental level, the Prime Minister’s assertion that the state must play a key role in protecting the environment and developing new, green technologies and that “where Government needs to intervene to ensure high standards are met, we will not hesitate to do so”, is very welcome.
“The sector must now engage fully and proactively with the Government to ensure that these ambitions are translated into meaningful actions and policy measures in the Resources and Waste Strategy that is promised towards the end of year. This strategy must maintain the momentum by setting out concrete measures and timelines for action on many fronts, from strengthening the markets for secondary raw materials, to reforming our Producer Responsibility systems, to reducing single use plastics. The Plan also acknowledges the important work that remains to be done on food waste, litter and waste crime and we look forward to more detail in these areas too.

“We are also pleased to see the commitment to helping developing nations tackle pollution and reduce plastic waste, including through UK aid. This is an argument that CIWM has been making at the highest levels recently, in partnership with other organisations including Tearfund, the Institute of Development Studies, and WasteAid UK (joint letter). Some 3 billion people across the globe do not have access to controlled waste disposal services and facilities, and research suggests that mismanaged municipal solid waste in developing countries is the major source of plastics entering the oceans. This means that there is significant scope for UK international aid to be better targeted at helping to address this crisis.”

CIWM would also like to see these long terms ambitions on environmental protection, sustainable waste management, resource efficiency and productivity enshrined in legislation to ensure that the government can be held to account for their delivery. 

The Defra 25-year Environment Plan can be found here.