Defra

DEFINITION: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the UK Government department responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards in the standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the UK.

See also: BEIS

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MPs are concerned that bricks-and-mortar retailers are held to different requirements than online marketplaces

Government 'must hold businesses like Apple and Amazon to account over e-waste'

Electronics brands and online retailers have been "dodging responsibility" for their e-waste impacts - and new laws could help stop them from producing tech that is hard to repair or recycle.

Pictured: The Peak District 

Defra doubles £40m green recovery fund for nature after huge demand

The Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched a second £40m round of its Green Recovery Challenge Fund, designed to promote nature restoration and conservation, after the initial round proved to be massively oversubscribed.

The report describes the food-to-go sector as "sandwiched between" Covid-19 and the war on plastics

City to Sea: 8 in 10 food-to-go giants failing to tackle single-use plastic

A survey of 20 of the UK's largest food-to-go outlets has found that more than eight in ten have introduced no policies on removing single-use plastic from consumer-facing operations this year.

The new packaging format will reach stores in January 2021

Ribena redesigns plastic labels in bid for 'bottle-to-bottle' recycling

Soft drinks giant Ribena has redesigned the sleeves on its plastic bottles, in a move it claims will improve recycling rates and prevent downcycling.

Around 80% of deforestation to date is linked to agriculture

Environment Bill: UK businesses to be banned from sourcing through deforesters overseas

New measures designed to stop UK-based businesses from importing products or materials linked to deforestation abroad have been added to the Environment Bill - but some green groups argue that loopholes will remain.

The Fund is allocated on a short-term, competitive basis

Charities call for investment boost as Defra reveals its Green Recovery Fund is hugely oversubscribed

More than 20 of the UK's biggest environmental charities are calling for additional funding for nature in Covid-19 stimulus planning, after Environment Minister Rebecca Pow revealed that the Green Recovery Fund is almost seven times oversubscribed.

The NCC claims that the state of nature in the UK has not improved since 2011

Natural Capital Committee: Environment Bill updates must stop businesses destroying nature

The UK Government must "urgently" help large businesses to value the natural resources in their value chains and to promote conservation and restoration at scale, the Natural Capital Committee (NCC) has concluded.

The OEP is due to start operating in January 2021

Environment Bill: Amendments raise fresh concerns over post-Brexit watchdog

Proposed amendments to the Environment Bill have sparked concerns around green campaign groups, who claim they could delay the introduction of the UK's post-Brexit watchdog and weaken its powers.

Mission Possible: Achieving a green recovery for hospitality and leisure

edie's Mission Possible campaign has evolved to focus on the green recovery, with a new series of reports outlining the challenges that businesses in key sectors face in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, and the opportunities that the green recovery will bring. Up next, hospitality and leisure.

The Conservative Party risks failing to deliver on its overarching pledge to improve nature for the next generation, the report warns

Natural Capital Committee: UK failing on promise to leave nature better for the next generation

The quality of the UK's soil, freshwater and marine habitats has declined in recent years, meaning that the Government is likely to fail to meet its long-term environmental promises without a step-change in action.

The EU approved a directive to ban oxo-degradable plastics in 2019

Supermarket and packaging giants call for UK-wide ban on degradable plastics

Representatives from the likes of Tesco, Waitrose, Aldi and the Co-op have signed an open letter to Ministers calling for a ban on plastics which are only degradable in industrial conditions with chemical additives.

The network will be overseen by the Company Shop Group, the UK’s largest redistributor of surplus stock

Food and retail giants to collaborate on government-backed scheme to reduce food waste

Some of the UK's largest retailers and food manufacturers, including Unilever, M&S, Nestlé and Amazon are collaborating to deliver a new network of "food waste champions" to help reduce the amount of food waste produced by the sectors.

About 17% of the Amazonian rainforest is estimated to have been destroyed over the past 50 years

Plans to halt deforestation not strong enough, Tesco, Nestle and Nandos tell UK Government

McDonald's, Nandos, Nestle, Mondelez and all of the UK's 'big seven' supermarkets have urged the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) to bolster its proposed legislation for tackling deforestation in supply chains.

In 2018, five billion single-use plastic straws entered circulation in England

Plastic straws to be banned in England from Thursday

Single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds will be banned from sale and distribution in England from Thursday (1 October), following Covid-19 related delays.

More than four in ten species in the UK have experienced population decline since 1970

Boris Johnson commits government to protecting 30% of UK's land

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that the UK will sign an international commitment binding nations to protect 30% of their land-based habitats - a move designed to halt biodiversity loss.

At a business level, the research found that the loss of three million working days could be prevented by meeting WHO guideline

UK could save £1.6bn and 17,000 deaths by improving air quality, report finds

Improving air quality in England in line with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines could deliver a £1.6bn benefit while preventing 17,000 premature deaths each year that are linked to air pollution.

edie Explains: Energy data optimisation

What is energy data optimisation? Why should a business optimise its energy data? What are the costs and challenges of energy data optimisation? This new edie Explains guide answers everything you need to know about the topic.

Retailers must donate funds raised through the charge to charity

UK plastic bag charge to be doubled and extended to all retailers

The UK Government has confirmed that the 5p charge on single-use plastic carrier bags will be doubled to 10p and extended to all retailers from April 2021.

The legislation would apply only to large businesses, with supermarkets, FMCG brands and fashion majors likely to be among the most affected 

Defra plans crackdown on deforestation in UK corporates' supply chains

Large companies in the UK could soon be mandated to prove that their supply chains are free from illegal deforestation or face hefty fines, under new due diligence legislation being developed by the Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The Environment Bill will be reintroduced to Parliament shortly after the summer recess finishes

Environment Bill update: UK to introduce legally binding nature, water, air and waste targets from 2022

After enshrining its 2050 net-zero target in law last year, the UK Government is developing similar legally binding targets for biodiversity, air quality, water and waste.

Councils are required to develop and deliver the projects in collaboration with a diverse range of stakeholders

Defra selects local authorities to spearhead innovative nature restoration projects

Local authorities in Cornwall, Buckinghamshire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Northumberland have been selected to trial place-based nature restoration strategies, which, if successful, could be replicated across the UK.

Bevan became Chief Executive of the Environment Agency in 2015

Environment Agency chief: UK has one chance to get post-Brexit, post-Covid-19 regulation right

The Environment Agency's (EA) chief executive Sir James Bevan has delivered a rousing speech to the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, urging policymakers to embed key environmental regulations from the EU into UK law ahead of Brexit, and to strengthen certain regulations to stimulate green growth.

The pilot will assist Defra’s 25-year Environment Plan, which includes a commitment to increase tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025

Vodafone and Defra launch IoT tree monitoring system to inform climate policy

Vodafone has enrolled in a new partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to use Internet of Things (IoT) technology to monitor and research tree growth to assist in tackling the climate crisis.

Recycling levels have languished in England for several years and the country is currently not on track to achieve its recycling target of 50% by 2020

UK targets 65% municipal waste recycling rates under EU's circular economy package

The UK Government has today (30 July) agreed to transpose aspects of the European Union's Circular Economy Package into UK law, agreeing on targets to recycle 65% of household waste by 2035 and to allow a maximum of 10% municipal waste going to landfill in the same timeframe.

Around 80% of the UK’s environmental laws have been forged in partnership with other nations in Europe

Defra unveils natural capital 'assessment' funding as post-Brexit green recovery shapes up

Environment Minister George Eustice has announced a new £5m Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment to protect the UK's environment as part of a new package of Environment Bill measures, on the same day that the Government unveiled a £16m sustainable farming package in South America.

There have been delays in the implementation of key Resources and Waste Strategy components due to Covid-19

Report: Burning UK's non-recyclable waste could provide 'green' heat for half a million homes

The landfilling and exporting of non-recyclable waste from UK homes and businesses should be de-prioritised in favour of incineration, think tank Policy Connect has argued in a new report backed by Defra under-secretary Rebecca Pow.

Nearly half the global population are already living in potential water-scarce areas 

England at serious risk of water shortage by 2040, MPs warn

England is at "serious risk" of running out of water within 20 years because of policymakers', regulators' and the water sector's failure to tackle leakage and align with net-zero.

Pre-pandemic, most urban areas in the UK registered illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, and the nation's overall levels exceeded World Health Organisation limits

Business for Clean Air: New initiative to help corporates tackle air pollution as lockdown lifts

Large UK businesses are now able to access a new array of tools aimed at helping them to tackle air pollution, after numerous surveys revealed that the British public are keen to see improvements in air quality maintained after lockdown.

As we move into the second half of June, just six months of the initial transition period remain

Is the UK on track for a green Brexit?

It's been a big week for Brexit news, with the UK kick-starting trade talks with Australia and progressing negotiations with the US and EU. But concerns that the promised 'green' Brexit will fail to materialise are mounting against a backdrop of no-deal warnings and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The projects will receive funding and assistance to develop business plans with the aim of attracting additional private sector investment

Defra backs natural capital investment projects

Four projects focused on protecting and restoring natural habitat across the UK are being backed by Government funding as part of a pilot scheme to funnel more private sector investment into the natural environment.

Farming is one of the sectors most exposed to environmental and climate risk

MPs to vote virtually on Agriculture Bill

The House of Commons is set to undergo its first virtual voting procedure today (13 May), with MPs given one last opportunity to amend the Agriculture Bill which is designed to safeguard agricultural processes and the natural environment.

Mission Possible: Achieving a sustainable future for RETAIL

edie’s insight report series provides an in-depth exploration of the steps that sustainability and energy professionals within Britain's retail industry can take to achieve a sustainable future, today.

The disclosure digest - Five steps to align sustainability with investor needs

This report is based on a session of discussions and co- creation hosted in association with edie’s 2020 Sustainability Leaders Forum. The half-day event took place on 3 February in London and saw sustainability managers from a wide range of businesses take part in collaborative roundtables. During the discussions, sustainability managers outlined key challenges and discussed the exciting new opportunities in the areas that mattered the most.

edie Explains: Net-zero carbon business

What is 'net-zero' in the context of business emissions? Which organisations are most suited to adopting net-zero carbon strategies? And, what is the impact of the coronavirus on the net-zero movement?

The Sustainability Reporting and Communications Handbook 2020

Launched during edie’s Engagement Week (4-8 May), the Sustainability Reporting and Communications Handbook 2020 provides readers with expert advice when it comes to relaying the importance of sustainability to key stakeholders; along with fresh insights to create, deliver and share a compelling sustainability report.

Greene King was the first pub to launch a partnership with the food redistribution app Too Good To Go 

Greene King reaches zero-waste-to-landfill status

Greene King has become the first UK pub chain to achieve the Carbon Trust’s Zero Waste to Landfill Standard, after diverting all waste streams away from landfill across its 1,700 managed pubs.

Green groups don't believe the current circumstances warrant a delay

Ban on plastic straws in England pushed back to October 2020

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has pushed back the ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds set to come into force later this month to October 2020, to the dismay of campaigners.

(Top-left to bottom-right): Centrica Business Solutions' Louis Burford; Decathlon's Emma Woolley; Centrica's Andrea Barrett; and edie's Luke Nicholls, who chaired the Virtual Roundtable

The net-zero bulldozer: Have the SDGs been forgotten in an era of climate activism?

2019 will be remembered as a year of unprecedented climate action, with improved science and mass citizen engagement spurring nations and businesses to set net-zero targets. But amid this rush of climate action, have the other social and environmental issues set out by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) been deprioritised?

The UK’s annual food waste output in 2017 stood at 10.2 million tonnes

Government issues £3m grant to tackle food waste during coronavirus outbreak

The UK Government has issued a £3.25m redistribution fund across England to help organisations cut back on food waste by redistributing surplus stock during the coronavirus outbreak.

By 2045, there will be 7% less water available for abstraction across the UK, the report states

Parts of England could run short of water within 20 years, NAO warns

Unsustainable water abstraction processes and infrastructure, compounded by climate change and population growth, will result in parts of southern England running out of water within 20 years.

Defra analysts broadly attribute this trend to the decarbonisation of energy used to manufacture products. Pictured: The Cottam Coal plant, which closed last September. Image: EDF

UK's carbon footprint 21% below peak levels, latest Government figures show

The UK's total carbon footprint - a term used to cover consumption-related emissions wherever in the world they occur - fell by 21% between 2007 and 2017, new Government data has revealed.

As of 2018, England's water consumption on a per capita basis was 143 litres daily 

UK water industry criticises 'unclear' Government approach to efficiency

The trade body representing the UK's water sector has criticised the Government's previous action and planned moves for water efficiency in homes and business, as water use is set to rise amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

Before departing in February, Eustice had been in Defra since October 2013

From fruit farmer to Environment Secretary: George Eustice to spearhead Defra

George Eustice has become the seventh Environment Secretary since 2010, after replacing Theresa Villiers who was sacked as part of Boris Johnson's cabinet reshuffle today (13 February).

(Top-left to bottom-right): Alok Sharma; Rishi Sunak; George Eustice; Andrea Leadsom; Sajid Javid; and Theresa Villiers have all been in in the spotlight as Boris Johnson wields the axe at his Cabinet

Cabinet reshuffle: All the key personnel changes that will impact the green economy

BREAKING: Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers has been sacked and replaced by George Eustice, while Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom has been replaced by International Development Secretary Alok Sharma, who has also been named as COP26 President.   

 edie rounds up the commentary on key areas of the Environment Bill

'A much-need overhaul': Green groups react to revamped Environment Bill

Green groups have welcomed the reintroduction of the Government's 'gold standard' Environment Bill today (30 January), noting that it could be "truly transformative" if it is able to set out legal guarantees on the delivery of a raft of new policy commitments.

The Bill confirms that the OEP will cover all climate change legislation, including the commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050

UK Government's 'gold standard' Environment Bill reintroduced

The UK Government's long-awaited Environment Bill has finally been reintroduced to Parliament, outlining powers to stop the exports of plastic waste to developing countries, and revamped governance systems on clean air and biodiversity and two-yearly reviews to update the Bill if required.

The Bill was initiailly introduced in October 2018, then delayed over the Brexit process

Agriculture Bill introduced, outlining sweeping post-Brexit environmental measures

The Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs' (Defra) Agriculture Bill has been introduced today (16 January), confirming the Government's plans for rewarding farmers that make environmental improvements and safeguarding green standards post-Brexit.

Clockwise from top left: Professor James Yu, Barbara Vest, Professor Philip Jones and Rachel Kyte are among the green economy figures on this year's New Year honour list 

New Years Honours 2020: The sustainability champions on the Queen's list

The 2020 New Year Honours list has recognised the outstanding achievements of more than 90 figures across the UK's environmental sphere, including green business figures, policy experts and scientists working to combat climate change and marine pollution.

Sustainability Leaders Awards 2020: Meet the Finalists

After a record-breaking year of entries, the judges have convened, decisions have been made and edie is proud to unveil the well-deserved finalists for the 2020 Sustainability Leaders Awards. This report outlines the who's who of sustainability excellence.

8 steps for overcoming the behavioural change challenge

During the SPARK 2.0 event, energy and sustainability professionals discussed the barriers to behaviour change and how businesses could harness the wider awareness of the climate strikes to engage all staff members on the need to manage energy use.

The 4 big ideas for net-zero carbon strategies

Experts across energy management came together at edie’s SPARK! 2.0 event to discuss the role that strategy could play in the delivery of net-zero carbon targets.

edie brings you three exclusive interviews across public, private and specialist firms

Sustainable Business Covered podcast: Green university leagues and energy storage

Episode 76 of edie's Sustainable Business Covered podcast features interviews with the University of Gloucestershire's director of sustainability Dr Alex, Ryan on topping a green university league, EDF Energy on a new storage master series as well as a chat with company Xerox's vice president for environment, health, safety and sustainability Wendi Latko.