Environment secretary Michael Gove has not denied that Defra is lobbying against the EU’s proposed 65% recycling target by 2035, and has outlined his concerns over weight-based measures.
Speaking at House of Commons debate, Labour environment spokesperson Sue Hayman challenged Gove over reports from Greenpeace that UK officials had been “quite blunt” in their opposition in behind-the-scenes negotiations in Brussels.
Gove responded: “We’re anxious to make sure that across the EU we have the right targets.
“One of the flaws … with the EU system is that because of its reliance on measuring through weight, sometimes it incentivises the wrong approaches.
“But I am confident that our own country has gone further than the EU has requested or suggested on everything from banning microplastics to looking at taxes on single-use plastics to, indeed, introducing the charge on plastic bags.”
Resource minister Therese Coffey indicated as far back as June last year that the UK could move away from weight-based recycling targets following Brexit.
Gove also responded to concerns from Conservative MP Kirstene Hair that the Scottish Government could end up footing the bill for plastic bottles from England once Scotland implements a deposit return scheme.
He said: “We will be working with devolved administrations in order to ensure that we have a UK-wide approach wherever possible.”
In the wake of the publication the 25-year environment plan, Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael said the UK “surely could do better” than aiming to eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042.
Gove said: “It is the case that there are more demanding and more ambitious targets to reducing waste plastics which the Government is bringing forward.”