The Environment Bill was due to be reported on in early December, the last step before it is voted on in the House of Commons.
The Environment Bill contains the powers necessary to instigate measures set out in the Resources and Waste Strategy, such as reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system and introducing consistent household recycling collections - critical now that the UK has left the EU.
It was previously scheduled to be reported on in early December 2020, the last step before the third reading in the House of Commons and the crucial vote to pass it. Once passed the Bill will then move through the House of Lords, and lastly gain Royal Assent.
The report stage gives MPs on the House floor an opportunity to dispute further amendments put to a Bill, that have previously been examined by an expert committee. A delay is not unusual, as there is no prescribed time in which the report stage follows the committee scrutiny.
Principles of the circular economy
Several interesting new amendments have been moved to be debated next week on 26 January relating to the waste sector. These include a movement by several MPs that the Secretary of State, in interpreting responsibilities under Part 3 (Waste and Resource Efficiency), must take into account the waste hierarchy, the top of which is prevention. This is a good signal that the principles of the circular economy are becoming part of the legal lexicon.
Other proposed amendments include the conferring of powers to the relevant national authority on the environmental impact of nappy waste and that the Secretary of State must set plastic pollution reduction targets.
The Environment Bill underpins important future regulatory change in the waste industry, including the ability to implement extended producer responsibility and a deposit return scheme. We would expect it gain Royal Assent by mid-2021.
We will of course be providing updates as they occur, but if you have any questions on the progress of the Environment Bill, or any other queries on waste policy, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
As Policy advisor Louisa provides key support to our team, including preparing reports on environmental policy issues and maintaining awareness of new developments. As such she will often be found coordinating responses to policy consultations, advocating policy positions and providing internal guidance to current legislation.