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An environmental plan for the future

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12 Jan 2018

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published a 25-year Environment Plan outlining the actions the government will take to ‘protect and improve the environment both at home and abroad’. The report tackles prominent issues such as minimising plastic waste by increasing the effective use of natural resources and encouraging biodiversity through cleaning our oceans.

Launching the plan, Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘I want the Britain of the future to be a truly global Britain, which is a force for good in the world. Steadfast in upholding our values – not least our fierce commitment to protecting the natural environment.’

Included in the report are policies on reducing pollution and waste – particularly plastics – with the aim to eliminate all avoidable waste by 2050 and avoidable plastic waste by 2042. The government will also work towards tackling the ‘dangerous levels of pollution’ in the UK’s cities. This incentive will be closely linked to the Future of Mobility grand challenge announced by the government in its Industrial Strategy, as the transport sector accountable for 40% of the UK’s total energy use.

Also announced in the Environment Plan, a new ‘overarching’ Chemicals Strategy is to be published. Priorities of the strategy will include the development of early-detection monitoring systems that can recognise emerging chemical issues and the standardisation of the tracking and safety of chemicals. There is no mention, however, of how the UK will continue to interact with EU chemicals legislation.

International leadership is at the core of the environment plan, says the report, with the UK ‘leading by example in tackling climate change and protecting and improving international biodiversity’. Schemes to achieve this goal include the phasing out of coal-powered electricity by 2025 and supporting supply chains that do not involve deforestation.  

‘It is this government’s ambition to leave our environment in a better state than we found it,’ said Michael Gove, Environment Secretary. ‘The success of the 5p plastic bag charge in reducing the use of carrier bags by 85% shows the difference which government action can make, and demonstrates that protecting our environment is a job for each one of us’.

Other policies outlined in the report include the development of a Nature Recovery Network – to help restore wildlife through schemes that re-introduce species into the countryside – and the introduction of more green spaces in towns and cities to improve public health and wellbeing.

The environment plan sets out 10 clear goals:

  1. Clean air
  2. Clean water
  3. Increase biodiversity in plants and wildlife
  4. Reduce harm from environmental hazards
  5. The sustainable use of natural resources
  6. Improve engagement with the UK’s natural beauty and heritage
  7. Tackle and adapt to climate change
  8. Reduce waste
  9. Manage exposure to chemicals
  10. Enhance biosecurity

The full report – A green future: Our 25 year plan to improve the environment – can be found here.

SCI welcomes the government’s long-term commitment to the environment. As ever, industry has a responsibility to source and manufacture products responsibly and sustainably.

Last year, SCI supported the launch of the Clean Growth Strategy through our Developing a Low Carbon Future for the Chemical Industry report, produced for the Chemistry Growth Partnership, and continues to work with government on the key environmental issues relating to the chemical-using industries.

SCI will continue to provide a forum for industry and academia to foster innovation for the benefit of the environment and global society.

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