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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Research has shown that SMEs would like more practical support from trade bodies and the Government on the road to net-zero

New coalition to help UK SMEs align with net-zero amid Covid-19 recovery

After research revealing that most UK SMEs face challenges relating to jargon and finance in the low-carbon transition, a new initiative has been launched to offer support.

We recap a busy week for green policy in the UK and Ireland

5 changes to green policy that you need to know about this week

There have been several important changes to green policy packages in the UK and Ireland this week. Here, edie rounds up the flurry of announcements.

The proposed policy changes are designed to reduce waste at the source while also increasing recycling capacity

Fashion brands set to cover recycling costs under new UK Government plans

The UK Government has today (18 March) begun consulting on measures to reduce waste from sectors including fashion, furniture, electricals and electronics - including new charges that would see businesses contribute to recycling costs.

Globally, food waste accounts for 8-10% of annual greenhouse gas emissions 

WRAP: Two-thirds of Brits don't see link between food waste and climate change

Better education on the links between food waste and climate change could encourage UK families to reduce the 6.6 million tonnes of food they bin at home every year.

Sunak will be hosting a press conference after the Budget speech on Wednesday. Image: HM Treasury 

Budget 2021: Businesses and charities make last-minute calls for green funding to Rishi Sunak

With the 2021 Budget being announced on Wednesday (3 March), Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing mounting pressure over the Green Homes Grant, National Nature Service and other green policy decisions.

Green groups have said this Budget will be "crucial" for setting the UK on a net-zero recovery pathway. Image: Parliament Live TV

Will the 2021 Budget help the UK deliver a green recovery?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will deliver his second Budget on 3 March. But, faced with the challenge of supporting the economy as the UK completes its lockdown exit roadmap, will the Budget deliver an appropriate response to the climate and nature emergencies?

The UK Government has repeatedly been taken to court over its approach to air quality 

'Be more ambitious': MPs press Government to beef up air quality policies before lockdown lifts

The UK Government should adopt the World Health Organisation's (WHO) guidelines on air pollution and step up funding and communications to help businesses and communities deliver on stricter goals to reduce particulates.

The fund will support key legislative frameworks, including the 25 Year Environment Plan

Defra unveils £10m fund for nature-based climate solutions

The Government has unveiled a new £10m fund to support nature-based projects that combat the climate crisis, in the same week that Oxford University launched a new venture studio designed to uncover similar solutions.

To date, the partnership has prevented 250 tonnes of CO2 emissions

Costa Coffee expands food waste prevention services across UK

Costa Coffee is expanding a partnership with an anti-food-waste app to offer customers the chance to purchase surplus food from more than 1,100 stores across the UK, having saved 250 tonnes of carbon emissions through the existing collaboration.

The Government committed in 2011 to leave nature in a better state across the UK within a generation

UK's progress on nature and the environment 'painfully slow', MPs warn

The UK Government is not on track to deliver its vision of improving the natural environment within a generation, due to "serious delays" implementing legislation and "disappointing progress" against existing goals and requirements on air, water and wildlife.

Sustainability Leaders Awards 2021: Meet the Winners

This special report provides in-depth profiles of all of the winners of edie's 2021 Sustainability Leaders Awards, along with exclusive comments from our judges and summaries of all 189 finalists across 24 categories.

The Dasgupta Review was commissioned by HM Treasury and lays out key recommendations to reversing manmade declines in biodiversity 

Landmark review calls for nature to be included in economic decision making

A new landmark review has been launched today (2 February), outlining how businesses and policymakers can include and account for nature as part of economic decisions, with many claiming the findings could be as influential as the Stern review on climate change.

The delay is likely to last for six months or more

'Extremely disappointing news': Government delays Environment Bill's return to Parliament

The Environment Bill was due to return to Parliament today (26 January), but the Government has confirmed that it will be delayed once more - much to the disappointment of green campaigners and business groups.

Banks and investors have been quicker to divest from coal than deforesters, according to the NGO despite both having a significant climate impact

Report: 2 in 3 banks have no commitments to stop financing deforestation

Some 95 of the world's largest 150 banks and investment firms have not published policies to prevent the companies they finance from destroying forests, with laggards including BlackRock and Wells Fargo.

Ikea's forest protection and Dove's refillable deodorant: The sustainability success stories of the week

As part of our Mission Possible campaign, edie brings you this weekly round-up of five of the best sustainability success stories of the week from across the globe.

Chris joined Wills Bros Ltd in 2018 and has quickly risen up the ranks to lead his own team

Meet edie's 30 Under 30 Class of 2020: Chris Landsburgh, Wills Bros Ltd

This new series profiles the members of edie's 30 Under 30 - a nomination-based community of 30 hugely talented young sustainability and energy professionals who have already achieved great things or are showing fantastic promise. Up next: Wills Bros Ltd's environmental and sustainability manager Chris Landsburgh.

Brexit, waste import bans from developing nations and the forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy are likely to increase the appetite for more recycling infrastructure in the UK

Report: UK could recycle three times as much plastic by 2030

The UK could recycle 3.5 times as much plastic in 2030 as it did in 2019, if the government works with the private and public sectors to accelerate investment in collection and processing infrastructure.

In action: the world's first fully commercial carbon capture and utilisation plant

Carbon Clean – in partnership with Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals and Fertilizers Limited (TFL) – has been operating the world’s first low-cost, industrial-scale carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) plant in India since October 2016. Take a look inside the project with this new download.

Pictured (L-R): Dieter Helm, Kirsty Hamilton and Joan Edwards. 

New Years Honours 2021: The sustainability champions on the Queen's list

The outstanding achievements of dozens of people working across the UK's environmental sphere have been recognised by the Queen in this year's New Year's Honours list. Read on to find out more about the newly-awarded scientists, policy experts, green finance champions and conservationists.

MPs are due to return from recess next Monday (11 January)

A net-zero New Year? The 7 green policies UK businesses are still waiting for

December saw a flurry of green policy announcements, from the Energy White Paper to the decision to end finance to fossil fuels overseas. But several key policy gaps remain on the road to net-zero as we enter a new year - and will need to be closed ahead of COP26.

All changes are designed to ensure that by 2028, farmers can operate safely and profitably without subsidy support

'Fraught with risk': Government's sustainable farming plan sparks concern amongst green groups

The UK Government has unveiled plans to deliver the most significant change to land management and farming practices in 50 years as a replacement to the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, a move that has sparked widespread concern amongst green groups due to a lack of detail.

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.