Responding to the news that the Government has launched a series of consultations covering food waste, plastics, and recycling, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has strongly welcomed the focus and called for tangible measures to be introduced.

According to the Government, the consultations which are launched this week, aim to overhaul the waste system, cut plastic pollution, and move towards a more circular economy.

Environment Secretary at Defra Michael Gove said: “We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste. That’s why we are leading the way to move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society and drive up domestic recycling.”

The measures included in the proposals include packaging producers paying the full cost of dealing with their waste, more consistent household recycling, and a deposit return scheme for cans and bottles. The consultation also includes a tax on plastic packaging that does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content.

The proposals will apparently make up a key part of the government’s upcoming Environment Bill, to be introduced later this year and CIEH say it is strongly supportive of the announcement, but called on the Government to back up proposals with tangible measures and appropriate funding to ensure it is a success.

Gary McFarlane,

Northern Ireland Director at CIEH, Gary McFarlane.

Gary McFarlane, Northern Ireland director at CIEH, said: “This focus on reducing waste and boosting recycling is a very welcome step forward.”

He added: “Climate change and ecological and environmental degradation is reaching crisis point. These are critical public health issues. Recycling and reducing waste is imperative as part of the response needed to meet these challenges. Examples from Germany and the Netherlands show that it might be possible for the UK to double its recycling rates with the use of payment for waste schemes, such as the reverse vending machines.

Michael Gove said: “Through our plans we will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling. We are committed to cementing our place as a world leader in resource efficiency, so we can be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”

Enviroment Seretary, Michel Gove.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer. Philip Hammond, also commented on the launch saying: “Plastic packaging makes up two-thirds of all the plastic waste that pollutes this country and wreaks havoc on our environment. It’s our responsibility to do something about it and that’s why we will introduce a new tax on the producers of plastic packaging that don’t use enough recycled material.

“This action, coupled with the other measures we are bringing in, will help drive up recycling, cut the amount of new plastic being used and protect our environment for future generations.”

“We welcome the commitment to tax the producers of plastic packaging in order to fund more recycling of these products and hope that this tax is introduced in the upcoming budget. It is essential that the Government now provides the appropriate funding so that local auth4orities have the tools to deliver the new systems.”