Welsh Environment Bill ups business requirements for recyclable waste

New legislation has passed in Wales looking to cap the amount of waste materials sent to Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities in the country, as the Welsh Assembly looks to ramp up businesses' recycling efforts.

Set to become Welsh law from 2017, the Environment Bill (Wales) includes requirements for businesses to limit the amount of recyclable waste being sent for incineration and a ban on disposable food waste being discarded in sewers. Any businesses that fail to comply with the new regulations will face prosecution.

Welsh Environment Minister Carl Sargeant, said: “This is a great day for Wales as the passing of the Environment Bill will ensure that the sustainable management of our natural resources will be a core consideration in all future decision-making.

Current recycling rates in Wales hit a 56.2% high in October – a 1.9% year-on-year increase

The efforts to boost recycling fall under the Bill’s overall aim of reducing carbon emissions in the country by at least 80% by 2050.

Alongside these commitments, the legislation also adds a requirement for the county’s body for the natural environment – Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – to produce reports every five years examining the protection of Wales’ natural resources.

Emyr Roberts, chief executive of the regulatory body Natural Resources Wales, said: “The passing of the Environment Bill puts us in a better position to be able to manage our natural resources in a way that helps us tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainable land management.

“This Bill, along with the Well-being of Future Generations Act and the Planning Act, places sustainable development at the heart of decision making across the public, private and third sectors, which will enable us all to fully recognise the contribution our natural resources make to tackling poverty, health inequalities, creating more jobs and a greener economy.”

UK reduction

The new legislation arrives after it was revealed that the UK reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 35% in 2014 from a 1990 baseline.

Revealed in a report from DECC, the figures showed that the largest reductions took place in the energy sector, accounting or a 13.6% decrease, largely due to a fall in fossil fuel consumption.

DECC stated that the UK emitted 514.4 million tonnes of CO2 in 2014 – 7.7% less than 2013.

Despite the reduction, the central government has done little to affirm its commitment to a low carbon future like its neighbouring policy makers have.

Prime Minister David Cameron recently labelled criticism levied at him for the Government’s lack of engagement with green policies as ‘total, utter nonsense’.

Yet last week the government confirmed that the amount of money given to local authorities in England to allow them to combat rising air pollution issues had been halved.

The Government has also failed to meet its own targets for cutting the environmental impact of the state’s operations – which were set in 2010 – missing out on the 25% carbon reduction target by 3%.

Matt Mace

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