As the country debates the pros and cons of Brexit and every news article seems devoted to this controversial, agonising decision there is one aspect we at Brantlegh Waste feel has perhaps not received the coverage it deserves. Because leaving the EU could well affect Britain’s approach to waste management.
The EU has very specific targets for recycling. The European Commission mandates that by 2020 all member states should be recycling 50% of their waste. This is expected to rise to a binding target of 65% by 2030. With British recycling rates currently lagging behind many of the other member states at 45%. In fact, currently only Greece and Portugal recycle a smaller portion of their waste, many worry that Brexit would lead to far more lenient legislation over recycling. As an Island with limited landfill opportunities, little recycling infrastructure and a powerful business sector there are convincing arguments to suggest that Brexit would lead to far less stringency over recycling.
That being said, there are many whom argue that Brexit would simply have no effect on our waste legislation. The government will be keen to avoid introducing a host of new legislation and will be far more tempted to simply continue along current policy lines. Not only is that, but as much of our trade is with EU countries it would make fiscal sense to comply with their laws. Many councils are also tied into long term contracts which means that in the short term Brexit will have little (if any impact) at waste management at a local level.
And, of course, even without the EU many in Britain still have an environment conscious and want to have a positive impact on the world and its resources. This is even backed up by WEEE (The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) who conducted a thorough analysis (conveniently for us) which stated that there would be little impact on waste management if we were to leave the EU. That being said the European Commission currently funds and co-ordinates all technical guidance and research in regards to environmental policy. Without this support, the UK may well find it far more difficult to identify the best practices to help ensure a sustainable future.
Another concern forwarded by activists is the EU’s Ambient Air quality directive which imposes strict limits on the number of pollutants allowed in the air. It would mean that England would have to cut its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. In order to fulfil these quotas harsh pressures were beginning to be placed on the transportation industry. Currently, only 5% of road fuels comes from biofuels – this statistic and pressure from the EU propelled the government to begin building Wind Farms. A process, which is so far along leaving the EU would realistically have little impact upon the UK’s commitment to renewable energy.
We would love to hear from our readers and how they feel their waste management would be affected by Brexit. Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org