The absence of a ban on single-use plastics in England, a “breach of the Brexit promise”
The inisters have been accused by activists of failing to keep their Brexit promise to ensure that UK environmental standards do not drop after the divorce with Brussels.
European Union member states are currently legislating to introduce a Brussels directive banning the most polluting single-use plastics, including polystyrene cutlery, plates and food containers, but the UK government has yet to follow suit not in England
British government ministers have consistently said in the wake of the 2016 Brexit referendum that the country will meet high environmental standards even after the bloc’s separation, pledging to be a world leader on green issues.
But the PA news agency may reveal that 21 campaign groups – including Greenpeace Friends of the Earth, City to Sea and Keep Britain Tidy – are expected to challenge the government on its commitments, warning that failure to follow anti-plastic regulations by the EU would be a “terrible breach of promises to lead on post-Brexit environmental issues.”
In a letter to Environment Minister Rebecca Pow on Tuesday, they will say standards in England are likely to fall below those in the EU and the rest of the UK if ministers do not act.
If the government fails to meet these minimum standards, it would be a cruel breach of its promises to lead environmental issues after Brexit.
Boris Johnson’s administration passed legislation against straws, agitators and cotton swabs, which are part of the EU directive that went into effect on July 3, but still has – unlike other decentralized parts of the UK – to ban plastic cutlery, plates or sticks attached to balloons, as well as other hard-to-break plastic food containers and packaging.
An online petition calling on Ms Pow to ban such single-use items in England drew more than 75,000 signatures on Sunday.
In the open letter to the deputy minister, the groups say “the government is not only succeeding in taking the lead in the fight against plastics, but falling behind our European neighbors and the decentralized nations in the UK” if it does not prohibit the polluting elements listed. in Article 5 of the EU Single Use Directive.
Campaigners call on ministers to ‘at the very least’ ban products listed in the EU directive in England as the pandemic sparks new fears ground has been lost in the battle against single-use plastics, which their way on British beaches and waterways.
The coronavirus crisis has led to a surge in the production of hard-to-throw products such as disposable face covers and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
Steve Hynd, policy manager at City to Sea – a nonprofit group that campaigns to stop plastic pollution at the source, said: “It is frankly embarrassing that as other governments move forward, ours is still. lagging behind.
“If the government fails to meet these minimum standards, it would be a terrible breach of its promises to lead environmental issues after Brexit.”
Nina Schrank, senior activist at Greenpeace, said: “The government claims to be a leader in tackling plastic pollution, but is falling behind in the most basic measures.
“They must align with EU law by banning at the very least some of the most harmful single-use plastics.”
Greenpeace is also calling on businesses and grocery stores to “step up” and expand their refillable and reusable options.
As environmental issues are a delegated responsibility, some countries in the UK have already proposed similar bans to the EU in their home markets.
Northern Ireland, the groups said, is required under the Northern Ireland Protocol to have transposed “certain articles” of the directive by 2022, and Scotland and Wales have proposed bans incorporating single-use plastics.
A spokesperson for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The UK is a world leader in tackling plastic pollution.
“We have banned both microbeads in rinse-off personal care products and the supply of plastic straws, agitators and cotton swabs, and our carrier bag charges have reduced sales by 95% in main supermarkets.
“Our historic environmental bill will give ministers the power to introduce deposit systems for plastic beverage containers and make companies more responsible for the packaging they produce, which will be encouraged to use more recyclable materials and achieve higher recycling targets.
“The bill will also make it easier for ministers to impose fees on single-use plastic items that threaten our ecosystems, and we are currently exploring options for future items to target.”