Whatever your opinions on the merit of the EU generally there can be no doubt that the EUs impact on waste management has been overwhelmingly positive.

Prior to the signing up to the EU in 1973 the UK was dubbed “the dirty man of Europe” for having a comparatively poor record on protecting the environment. The EU has since driven progress on efficient resource use through its directives:
The Waste Framework directive sets out the basic concepts and definitions for waste management. The Directive includes targets for member states to reuse and recycle 50% of household waste by 2020 as well as helping to incorporate the waste hierarchy into law. Prior to leaving the EU fines could be implemented and passed down to local government. It is no coincidence that recycling rates have increased by 400% since 2000 (Local Government Association, 2015). Additionally the landfill directive has helped to drive the reduction in use of landfills.

Going forward the UK was to take part in the next stage of more ambitious targets and the embedding of the circular economy where resources are endlessly used rather than virgin materials being extracted at great cost to the environment. That is now unlikely to happen. It remains unclear what the UK will have to comply with in terms of the Circular Economy Package in order to trade with the EU.

On a positive note Scotland and Wales have used devolved government and EU derived regulations to take massive strides towards zero waste- They are unlikely to change direction.

In theory England and the UK could set higher standards for recycling etc. than the EU does but recent governments have been very hands off in terms of waste management and left much to the sector to deal with itself. The opportunity is there to embrace our independence and strive for higher environmental standards than the EU but history suggests we will not take this chance.

The impact on the university is difficult to predict but our commitment to increase recycling by at least 50% in 2020 will continue.

Remember, recycling will always remain the right thing to do for a planet with limited resources!

If you want to find out more about Waste Management at the University please get in touch at sustainability@westminster.ac.uk

Image: Wrap (2016)

Andrew Sherwood

Andrew Sherwood

Waste Coordinator at The University of Westminster
Andrew coordinates all the waste although would prefer to be known as a ‘resources’ coordinator.

He has a degree in Environmental Management and Geography and completed an MSc in Sustainability, Planning and Environmental Policy.

Andrew Sherwood

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