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Brexit’s impact on UK recycling could be severe

December 12, 2017

A new report published this month indicates that Brexit could have a detrimental impact on recycling in the UK and lead to reopening of landfills.

As CIWM reveals, the Green Alliance-published report, entitled ‘A new direction for UK resource strategy’, claims that in the absence of “ambitious new recycling targets” the progress the UK has made in terms of recycling could “slip” and cause the reopening of landfills.

The EU’s current recycling targets are due to expire in 2020 and the UK has made “no promise” to replace them, states the report; an omission which flies in the face of the feelings of the general public, with 93 percent of people saying that, to them, recycling is “personally important”.

Worryingly, the report also suggests that Brexit could have a detrimental impact, both environmentally and socially, as Brexit could cause an increase in dangerous chemical usage, which in turn would trigger “millions more animal toxicity tests” and “saddle people in the UK with shoddy products”.

Green Alliance’s study was conducted on behalf of the Circular Economy Task Force, examining the environmental challenges and assessing the risks posed by Brexit.

The report “sets out recommendations” that would “avoid risks”, such as “negotiating to stay in REACH” and “continuing to co-operate on EU eco-design standards”, as well as “adopting ambitious new targets for recycling and waste minimisation.”

Green Alliance’s Senior Policy Advisor on Resources, Libby Peake, said, ““The resource policies we choose after Brexit will have a real effect on people’s lives. We’re at a crossroads – we can either improve our protections and use of resources or revert to simple waste management. The wrong decisions could harm our environment, businesses and citizens.

“But people didn’t vote to increase animal testing or to be exposed to more dangerous chemicals and shoddy products. Defra’s renewed strategy on resources is the opportunity to take the right path towards a more resource efficient future instead.”

Dr Colin Church, CEO of CIWM and chair of the Circular Economy Task Force, said: “In the EU or out, the UK is part of a global market where European standards on recycling, products and chemicals have set the benchmark for keeping us and our environment safe and healthy. This is something recognised by the vast majority of people.

“Clearly, we need to keep to those standards and protections, if not better them.”

For the full report click here.



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