Unpacking the Government’s Waste and Resources Plans

Environmental managers are worried about regulation. Their confidence in the UK Government is low with Brexit only five weeks away. But the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is moving quickly on waste and resources to create new legal drivers on recycling, plastics, and packaging. Following its 25 Year Environment Plan, Draft Environment Bill, and Waste and Resources Strategy, it’s now launched proposals for action. So how will changes filter through to the regulation that organisations must deal with?

Be Prepared

Why You Need to Get Ready

UK environmental law is changing faster now than ever before. Deregulation is removing requirements such as the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme. Furthermore, recent initiatives, such as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, seem weak. However, the Environment Agency now has more resources to help it enforce the law, and a new independent Office for Environmental Protection will protect existing EU-compliant environmental law after Brexit.

For waste and resources issues in particular, new drivers for action have become more relevant. There is a growing awareness of circular economy concepts, and shock at the impact of disposed materials when they become pollution. The risk of waste crime in supply chains is also increasing. But still, recycling rates are stagnating.

New Consultations

New Consultations

Last week, Defra launched consultations on four separate proposals, on:

Let’s take a look at how the proposed measures could impact businesses.

Supply Chain Costs and Opportunities

Supply Chain Costs and Opportunities

Suppliers covered by extended producer responsibility requirements will need to fully fund material recycling costs, and proposed new taxes will apply to plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content. So, be prepared for rising prices of goods as manufacturers and suppliers respond to close their financial gaps. The new initiatives also aim to boost the market for recycled materials. That’s good news for organisations that adopt circular economy practices, but could introduce further complexity to your waste duty of care.

The responsibilities will be more thorough for existing schemes for electricals, batteries, and vehicles. We’re also waiting to see if new schemes will be introduced. They could require industry to overcome technical hurdles, such as passporting of construction materials. Your organisation will therefore need to keep its awareness of applicable legal aspects up to date.

Normalising Waste-Aware Behaviour

Normalising Waste-Aware Behaviour

Initiatives to control waste in organisations are difficult because they usually rely so much on human behaviour. For example, you might provide reusable mugs and separate collection for different waste streams, but you’ll probably still end up with lots of disposable cups going into the wrong bins. This is partly because waste and resources awareness is so poor. And, the different recycling schemes around the UK are complicated, so many people find recycling difficult and frustrating.

Normalising waste consciousness at home, with more consistent recycling across the country, and a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, could change this. That’s because there will be more investment and ownership of waste outcomes. Forward-thinking organisations are already focusing on behaviour and business culture to get better waste results – so how can you take advantage of this opportunity?

“Building a responsible business culture is the piece that joins the dots together”

Sunil Shah, Acclaro Advisory

Building a responsible business culture

With so many changes coming so quickly, as well as amendments to the legislation in place already, you’ll need a system to:

  • identify requirements relevant to you, your operations, and your key suppliers and clients;
  • understand the criteria for waste and resources compliance;
  • audit your performance;
  • link compliance gaps to business risks; and
  • take action to close findings.

You can really benefit if you use your improved awareness to build more responsive relationships with stakeholders and drive behaviour change. It all starts with building a legal register; make sure you link precise detail to the primary legislation that delivers it – because this will change rapidly after Brexit. And, you’ll want to make sure that staff with relevant roles and responsibilities are well-trained on their waste duty of care. Does this sound like something you need to do?

It’s a challenge, but it is possible.

Acclaro Advisory has worked with clients across sectors and at different scales to do this. We understand the relevance of environmental law to working processes, and their context within different approaches to environmental management. We use training to reach compliance as well as improve employee retention. Recommendations based on our findings open new cost-saving or revenue-building initiatives. And, we find smart behaviour change ‘quick wins‘ that make real impacts.

Get in touch with us to tell us about the issues you face. We want to find out about why you want to take action. We’ll listen and work with you to guide you to find the right approach, and you can trust us to deliver an action plan that works for you.