The UK Governments Environment Bill, which was introduced in 2012, is now law. It is the first Environment Act in over 30 years to pass through Parliament.
The Environment Act 2021 introduces new environmental standards to improve air quality and water quality, reduce waste, increase recycling, and improve Britain’s natural environment.
Following the recent COP26 Climate Conference, the Bill was passed. It comes as a result of growing scrutiny and expectations for good ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance), practice the three key standards used to measure a business’s sustainable and ethical impact.
Moving beyond good intentions to requirements
This legislation is far more than a mere lip service. It will support the Government’s mission to combat climate change, preserve biodiversity, and stop species decline by 2030.
The new legislation will create a new watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), that will operate independently in 2022. The OEP will hold public and government agencies accountable for their environmental regulations. It has the power to monitor and make reports on environmental law.
Some directives will impact the waste management sector. Government describes the legislation to be helping to transition to a circular economy. This includes encouraging people to recycle more and encouraging businesses to create sustainable packaging. It also makes it easier to recycle in the home and prevents the export of polluting materials to developing nations.
The legislation is widely seen as a victory by campaigners. It also includes a set of legally binding environmental improvement goals. Businesses and public officials should be made aware of the Bills goals.
War on waste, or waste of time?
It is important to note that while most media coverage on the Bill has focused on air quality, biodiversity, sewage, the legislation is broad-ranging. It contains several key changes that could lead to new regulations regarding waste reduction and resource efficiency.
Waste management processes
Enforcement and regulation of waste
Producer responsibility obligations may include the obligation to pay for disposal costs.
Resource efficiency information and resource efficiency requirements
The Act also amends existing legislation in waste management areas, such as hazardous waste, separation, and suggestions for the establishment an electronic tracking system.
The message is clear
The Environment Bill will not be a simple bill that requires compliance. The Environment Bill will require organisations to show that they aren’t contributing to illegal practices through their supply chain. As well as investors, local communities, and employees, Parliament will examine waste management and resource efficiency.
It remains to see how long it takes for the Government to take the concrete steps necessary to meet some targets.
In the present, however, the emphasis should be on transforming purpose into progress. Businesses must show commitment and compliance to play their part.
It is clear that businesses are expected to improve their waste management standards. To increase the E in their ESG efforts.
Those who do will prosper.
It is important to remember that what is good for the planet is also good for the bottom line.
This was published in Bdaily’s Members News section