Defra has said 90% of its 25-year environment plan is ‘already achieved’ but more waste will need to be processed through the UK’s recycling infrastructure.
In a progress report on the 25-year plan, the Government congratulated itself that 90% of the action points “have been delivered or are being progressed”.
The 25-year plan was launched in January 2018. Included in a wide range of environmental policy initiatives, it made commitments to double resource productivity and eliminate ‘avoidable’ waste of all kinds by 2050, with a specific commitment on ‘avoidable’ plastic waste.
In addition to launching the resources and waste strategy, Defra said the 25-year plan’s other three commitments concerning waste were “in progress, on time”. These include achieving zero avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042, continuing implementation of the litter strategy to reduce plastic and “cracking down on fly-tippers and waste criminals”.
Despite the raft of policy proposals outlined in the waste strategy, the UK is set to miss its 2020 recycling targets. Recently, packaging and recycling firm DS Smith warned that the UK will not have enough recycling infrastructure to meet increased targets set by the EU until 2035 because of “chronic under-investment”.
Defra’s progress report said: “We want to stimulate the domestic recycling market so we handle more waste in the UK, as well as ensuring the waste we do have to export is handled properly.
“While we are putting mechanisms in place so that waste is managed more effectively when it does arise, our focus will be on preventing waste arising in the first place through better resource management.”
Resources minister Therese Coffey said of the report: “While progress is encouraging, we know there is still more to do.”
In his foreword to the report, environment secretary Michael Gove said: “Notably, we have exceeded the ambition of the plan by publishing a draft Environment Bill that puts accountability for the natural world – our most precious inheritance – at the very heart of Government.
“Outside the EU, a new system of protection will reward individuals, communities and businesses for making the right choices about the environment, and penalise those that continue to pollute.”