The new Environment Act 2021, which came into force on 9 November 2021, will be welcomed by many, as it seeks to signal the Government’s commitment to environmental protection post Brexit. Whilst the Act itself is vast, Part 3 focuses specifically on Waste and Resource Efficiency, placing greater responsibility on businesses which introduce products to the market in Great Britain.
The Act enables the relevant national authority (the Secretary of State in England) to implement new regulations with the aim of reducing waste and encouraging businesses to be more conscious when it comes to sustainability. Whilst regulations are yet to come into force, it is likely that they will seek to prevent a product and/or raw material from becoming waste or reduce the amount of it which becomes waste.
In order to promote more sustainable design, the Act also allows the Government to require that producers pay the full cost of managing products at their ‘end-of-life’. It is hoped that faced with increased financial obligations, producers would be encouraged to turn their focus to products which are more readily reusable or repairable, thereby reducing their consumption of raw materials.
It is yet to be seen how regulations may be implemented, but businesses will need to monitor and look out for the introduction of regulations which may be relevant to their operations. Further information regarding producer responsibility and the Environment Act 2021 more generally can be found here.