Rishi Sunak scraps “burdensome” recycling schemes



Rishi Sunak has scrapped “burdensome” proposals he says would “force” British people to have seven different bins in their homes.

The Prime Minister announced the changes in a speech that signalled a major policy shift.

Yesterday (19 September) reports emerged that Rishi Sunak was likely to scrap what he sees as “burdensome” recycling schemes as part of plans to weaken some of the government’s key net zero commitments.

According to reports, the government was considering providing households with “seven bins”, six separate recycling bins and one for general waste, as part of its recycling scheme.

The PM has today emphatically scrapped a policy that never existed.

Reacting to the announcement, Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), Jacob Hayler, said: “The PM has today emphatically scrapped a policy that never existed by removing the requirement that householders each have seven bins under the Government’s recycling reforms.

“Far from being burdensome, the recycling reforms, which have been widely supported by industry since they were announced five years ago, are about making recycling easier for consumers by introducing a nationally consistent range of recycling services that support clearer recycling labelling on packaging.”

During an interview with Radio 4, Home Secretary Suella Braverman warned net zero could potentially “bankrupt the British people” and described some of the government’s current targets as “arbitrary”.

Braverman also called the current plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 “totally unrealistic” and “punitive”. The government is reportedly planning to push back the target to 2035. The 2030 date has been government policy since 2020, set under then-PM Boris Johnson.

For too many years politicians in governments of all stripes have not been honest about costs and trade-offs.

The policy change is a divergence from Labour but has also ignited criticism from high-profile Tory MPs. Tory MP Chris Skidmore, who chaired a previous net zero review that recommended ending the export of UK plastic waste by 2027, said it would be the “greatest mistake” for Sunak.

In a statement last night reacting to the reports, the PM said: “For too many years politicians in governments of all stripes have not been honest about costs and trade-offs. Instead, they have taken the easy way out, saying we can have it all.

“This realism doesn’t mean losing our ambition or abandoning our commitments. Far from it. I am proud that Britain is leading the world on climate change.”

“We are committed to Net Zero by 2050 and the agreements we have made internationally – but doing so in a better, more proportionate way. Our politics must again put the long-term interests of our country before the short-term political needs of the moment.”

“No leak will stop me beginning the process of telling the country how and why we need to change.”

“As a first step, I’ll be giving a speech this week to set out an important long-term decision we need to make so our country becomes the place I know we all want it to be for our children.”

Jacob Hayler also said the reforms will unlock “more than ten billion pounds” worth of investment from the recycling sector in new green infrastructure, services and associated jobs, but the more “floundering and backtracking” from Government, the longer that investment in the UK is delayed.

He continued: “Rishi Sunak was clear in his announcement that the Government was not rowing back on a single environmental target, so we expect Defra to quickly set out new plans to meet its targets to achieve 65% municipal recycling by 2035, as well as supporting a ban on sending organic waste to landfill by 2028, and to then follow through on those plans.”

CIWM’s reaction

Net zero

CIWM says it believes today’s announcement by the Prime Minister that he is scrapping proposals for households to have seven different bins was confusing, particularly given that this has never been a proposal brought forward by the Government.

CIWM says it was “dismayed” to hear the Prime Minister describing the consistent collection reforms as a “diktat” and “heavy-handed” given that the policy is about making household recycling easier.

Throughout the consultation process, CIWM says Defra have been clear that local authorities will have the freedom to design collection systems that best fit their area and circumstances, meaning it was never going to be the “top-down approach” the Government claims to have scrapped.

Lee Marshall, CIWM Policy & External Affairs Director, commented: “It is probably a first to have a Prime Minister scrap a policy that hasn’t been implemented and was never proposed in the first place. We have since received confirmation from Defra that the policy is still progressing but is now badged as ‘Simpler Recycling’, a name change that is not needed and has the potential to cause further confusion.

It is probably a first to have a Prime Minister scrap a policy that hasn’t been implemented and was never proposed in the first place.

“We have gone through two detailed and lengthy consultations and CIWM members have sat on numerous working groups to help Defra ensure these policy reforms were informed, insight-led and evidence-based. It feels as if this valuable knowledge has been ridden roughshod over by No.10 and we very much hope this is not the case. Now more than ever the sector can support Government in delivering these vital resource and waste policy reforms and our insights should be valued.”

CIWM says it also feels that the Government is relinquishing its leadership responsibility on climate change and net zero with this raft of announcements. There is a danger it will move from leading the way to a world beyond waste to a place that will fail to generate the investment, green jobs and opportunities the UK wants and needs.

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