Queen’s Speech December 2019: restrictions on plastic waste exports

In the December 2019 Queen’s Speech, the Government outlined their plans to press ahead with the Environment Bill. One key aspect of this bill is to introduce restrictions to plastic waste exports to non-OECD countries.

The Environment Bill

On the 19th December, the Queen delivered the Queen’s Speech to the Houses of Parliament. As is tradition, the Speech outlined the Government’s forthcoming policies and legislation. Concerning the environment, the Government pledged to continue to work towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To support this effort, the Environment Bill will be advanced through parliament.

The Policy Statement for the Environment Bill was first published in October 2019. The Statement described “a series of measures that will fundamentally change the way government, businesses and individuals produce and consume products”. The Speech elaborates further upon the Statement, acknowledging restrictions to plastic waste exports. Specifically, the Speech outlines the application of waste export constraints to countries that are not members of the OECD:

[The Government] will also ban the export of polluting plastic waste to countries outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and establish a new, world-leading independent regulator in the statute.” (Queen’s Speech December 2019)

Plastic waste export restrictions

In early 2018, China changed its position on importing waste plastic. Since then, alternative markets – like Vietnam – have been vying for the UK’s recyclable waste. However, the National Audit Office queried whether exported plastic is treated to UK standard. Instead, the National Audit Office posits that exported waste is potentially sent to landfill or contributes to pollution.

With this in mind, the Government is seeking to use the Environment Bill to establish a step-change in environmental protection; cracking down on harmful carelessness.

Stay updated

With rising waste management costs and increasingly complex legislation, it is important that industry managers stay informed. Here at Wiser Environment, we have extensive experience in the field of waste and resource management. If you have any questions or queries about the latest updates to environmental legislation, then contact us or call our team on 01480 462232.