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Parliament goes for Circular Economy | Climate change lawyer

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Select Committee has approved a report recommending the adoption of the ‘Circular Ecomony’ principles to end what is described as ‘the throwaway society’.

A summary of the recommendations is as follows:



9.  The Government should introduce differential VAT rates based on life-cycle analysis of the environmental impact or recycled content of products, and tax allowances for businesses that repair goods or promote re-use. It should set up a cross-Government working group, led by the Cabinet Office to decide how best to implement such reforms. (Paragraph 27)

10.  The Government should reform the PRN scheme to include an ‘offset’ or lower charge for products that have higher recycled content and ensure that funds generated from the operation of the scheme are distributed to bodies working to enhance materials recovery and product circularity. It should also introduce individual producer responsibility schemes in new sectors to make more producers design products with their end-of-life in mind. The Government should review how processes for environmental protections against illegal disposal of waste might be simplified to encourage businesses to re-use materials. More generally, it should explore the scope for regulating the minimum recycled content of particular products in order to stimulate sustainable markets in recovered and recycled material. (Paragraph 33)

11.  Local authorities need to tailor their [household recycling services] to local needs, but the Government should give clear guidance that directs local authorities in England towards a more standard approach. This should include separation systems that enable reliable delivery of compatible sorted waste products to all recyclers, separate food waste collections, and a ban on food waste to landfill. (Paragraph 39)

12.  The Government should set out plans to ensure eDoc’s long term future so that it can fulfil its role in improving data quality on waste materials. It should set a deadline by which time reporting in this way will be mandatory. (Paragraph 42)

13.  The Green Investment Bank should finance innovative technologies to support a circular economy. The Bank could for example showcase the potential of anaerobic digestion plants which are able to process a range of waste feedstock sources by investing in such projects. The Government needs to ensure that its policies for recovering resources and generating energy are aligned and are consistent with the waste hierarchy. (Paragraph 45)

14.  The Government, working closely with the EU, should establish eco-design standards across a range of products. It should set out the steps towards a ban on products that are made from materials that cannot be recycled, or reduce taxes on those that can be. Such standards would phase out inefficient products or hard to recycle materials by ensuring that companies design products that are consistent with the circular economy, have a clear end-of-life recovery route and are fabricated using easily separable and recyclable components. The Government should underpin voluntary agreements by setting timescales by which regulation would establish the recyclability of all products coming on the market. The Government should also work with industry sectors to set longer minimum warranty periods for consumer products to encourage businesses to adopt more resource-efficient business models. (Paragraph 51)

15.  [The Government] should take steps to remove trade barriers for remanufactured goods through trade negotiations, including pushing for them to be treated in the same way as new products. (Paragraph 55)

16.  The Government should extend buying standards to include a greater emphasis on the recyclability of materials and recycled or re-used content. (Paragraph 58)

17.  The Government should learn from the strategic vision and ambitious targets that other countries have adopted. It should embrace the EU’s ambitious targets for improving resource productivity, and support business in achieving the economic and environmental benefits. It should also support the European’s Commission’s proposals for recycling and the accompanying proposed targets, and use these to drive change. (Paragraph 70)

18.  The Government needs to ensure that there is sufficient funding available for agencies such as WRAP and the Technology Strategy Board to support this transition. Some of the revenues from the Landfill Tax and taxes on non-circular products should be used to directly support the circular economy and reverse the cuts in WRAP’s funding. (Paragraph 71)

9.  The circular economy must be embedded into industrial strategy, based on resource risks and covering key sectors. Local Enterprise Plans should take identify steps to mitigate these risks and opportunities to innovate. It should also be mainstreamed into departmental business plans, with clear responsibilities for driving this forward in both BIS and Defra and across Government. (Paragraph 72)√جª¬ø

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