With the controversies of Brexit at the forefront of everyone’s mind, we often forget about our other concerns for our society, like the ever-worsening state of our planet. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn even declared that the environmental issues we face today far outweigh the importance of the Brexit debate that rages on. Corbyn has been quoted saying “we are facing a climate crisis. There’s no bigger threat to our future”.With this in mind, here are two pieces of environmental legislation that have recently passed:
- In 2018, Poland passed legislation to put an end to the illegal dumping of waste brought in from foreign countries, notably due to the waste being incinerated in an effort to dispose of it. However, this releases large amounts of toxic smoke, and one fire took 250 firefighters two days to extinguish. As a result of this legislation, Poland has recently returned 4,000 tonnes of waste illegally dumped by the UK, with 1,000 tonnes of waste returned to us last year.
- Two weeks ago, the European Parliament voted to ban single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers in an attempt to prevent plastic waste polluting the marine environment. EU members will have to reduce the use of plastic food containers and lids, while also ensuring that plastic bottles are to be made from 25% recycled materials by 2025 – with this becoming 90% by 2029. This legislation also enacts a ‘polluters pay’ principle on the manufacturers of fishing nets; to cover the costs for the damage that derelict fishing nets cause.
· Despite these changes, Brexit is never far. Even with the ban on single-use plastic being enshrined in EU Law, there is no guarantee that this will become a UK wide regulation. This said, the government released a new 25 Year Environment Plan in early 2018, aimed at ensuring Brexit becomes an opportunity for environmental protection and conservation.
So what are our next steps? Regardless of the political landscape, it’s clear that we – both as a nation and as individuals – need to take action. How much single-use plastic do you still consume? Discover your plastic footprint with Greenpeace’s calculator and take the first step towards reducing your plastic use. There are over 66 million people in the UK and we can all do our bit.