Is it time British business turned up the heat on UK environmental policy?

What does your sustainability agenda aim for? 

A head-to-head is just around the corner: President Obama and 13 multinational companies have pledged to cut carbon emissions by 6 billion tonnes, while the UK's Conservative government stands accused of scrapping and watering down its environmental policies.

Obama's big launch in July was well received (by most), taking on the unenviable challenge of trying to break the USA’s reputation as a big polluter. Across the water here in the UK meanwhile, we have a re-elected Conservative government with a promising manifesto angled towards improving society, protecting our resources and environment and promoting development and change in our energy demands. However, the headline policy doesn’t appear to chime with the reality of a government making cuts and seemingly turning its back on sustainability.

Long term damage to the UK?

Some recent examples to consider: vehicle excise duty measures are not favouring low emission vehicles; funding has been withdrawn for the Green Deal energy saving improvements programme; solar subsidies have been removed; fracking is being waved through even in protected areas; and, most recently, controls within the waste sector may also be cut. Taken together, surely these decisions will cause long term damage to the UK and therefore the UK economy? Why are such short lived measures being considered when other leading nations are moving in the other direction?

More to the point, we don’t actually believe that the government’s direction is backed by business, with many big brands increasingly committed to sustainability.

Business, social and environmental ideals

Businesses including Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Cargill and Alcoa have supported the carbon reduction pledge in the US. These global brands are also based here in the UK, of course. Many of our own home-grown companies openly share their own sustainability programmes, performance measures, targets and results. They already lead the market in best practice and demonstrate the reputational and supply chain security that comes from a well-aligned sustainability strategy that supports business goals. And we found at our recent sustainability leadership roundtable debate, held in Bristol, what we already suspected: many other companies, large and small, have the same business, social and environmental ideals as the global giants.

Have your say...

What does your sustainability agenda aim for? Does it go beyond legislative demands and align to your business objectives? Or are you fighting a battle to develop your own sustainability plan and lead the market, distinguishing you from the crowd and supporting a longer term security of supply and demand?

We’d love to hear your views, both to contribute to our next roundtable session and to add your voice to the latest call for evidence from government regarding reduction in red tape – we’ll be putting our members views directly to government with consolidated views, first hand examples and best practice (beyond producer responsibility), but only with your backing. With more evidence comes a louder voice so please get in touch with us directly, as well as contributing to our legislative review survey.

Robbie Staniforth

Innovation and Policy Director

Robbie is innovation and policy director at Ecosurety. Having spent years building an intimate understanding of the industry’s policies and politics, he uses this knowledge to help shape new legislation and oversees Ecosurety’s growing portfolio of cross-industry innovation projects including Podback and the Flexible Plastic Fund. He has worked closely with Defra during the most recent packaging consultations, outlining the impacts and required transitional arrangements of the UK’s new EPR system and is a member of the government’s Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP). He is also a spokesperson for the company and regularly uses his influence to communicate the importance of environmental responsibility to external stakeholders.

Written by Robbie Staniforth Published 07/08/2015 Topics Sustainability

Useful links

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In 2023, 162,357 tonnes of aluminium packaging were recycled in the UK (68%), including more than four in five beverage cans (81%).


European Parliament introduce regulations to improve packaging sustainability

On 24 April, the EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) was approved, introducing new measures to make packaging more sustainable and reduce packaging waste within the EU. 


Provisional agreement reached on the EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation

A provisional agreement has been reached on the EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR).  


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