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After more than two years since it was introduced, the long-awaited Environment Act has received Royal Assent and has finally passed into UK law. Green groups and campaigners are celebrating the first environment bill in England for 26 years, calling it a ‘momentous event’.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said, ‘’ The Environment Act will deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth. It will halt the decline of species by 2030, clean up our air and protect the health of our rivers, reform the way in which we deal with waste and tackle deforestation overseas.”

The new legislation aims to protect and improve the environment for future generations with stronger provisions including the creation of the new, independent Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). The OEP will hold the government and public organisations accountable for their environmental commitments.

The Environment Act will deliver:

  • Long-term targets to improve air quality, biodiversity, water, and waste reduction and resource efficiency
  • A target on ambient PM2.5 concentrations, the most harmful pollutant to human health
  • A target to halt the decline of nature by 2030
  • Environmental Improvement Plans, including interim targets
  • A cycle of environmental monitoring and reporting
  • Environmental Principles embedded in domestic policymaking
  • Office for Environmental Protection to uphold environmental law

The Environment Act also contains many rules for waste and recycling, to enable it to deliver:

  • Extend producer responsibility to make producers pay for 100% of the cost of disposal of products, starting with plastic packaging
  • A deposit Return Scheme for single use drinks containers
  • Charges for single use plastics
  • Greater consistency in recycling collections in England
  • Electronic waste tracking to monitor waste movements and tackle fly-tipping
  • Tackle waste crime
  • Power to introduce new resource efficiency information (labelling on the recyclability and durability of products)
  • Regulate shipment of hazardous waste
  • Ban or restrict the export of waste to non-OECD countries

Please read more information on the Environment Act on the government’s website.