Why the UK has become the dirty man of Europe since Brexit

From: Stephen Hardy, George Close, Robertsbridge

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 8:43 am
Some of the rubbish that washes up on our beaches

Perhaps you remember the pledge made by Michael Gove in 2017 that a Brexited Britain would be a greener Britain and would enhance environmental protections. During our membership of the EU, a directive was negotiated with UK consent, to end the use of many single use plastics. These are things like plastic straws and bottles, coffee cups and takeaway containers made of expanded polystyrene which make up 50% of all the litter found on our beaches, the stuff that local organisations like Strandliners and Bexhill Environment Group collect on their beach clean ups.

On July 3rd in the European Union, the use of these single use plastics has been banned but all we in the UK have done is ban the use of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, but not plastic bottles and takeaway containers. Well except that the UK rules have a load of exemptions as well so that plastic straws can continue to be used in all cafes and restaurants, schools, care homes and prisons. So not too much of a ban then. And plastic bottles make up a quarter of all the waste found on our beaches.

The simple conclusion is that a Brexited Britain is rapidly regaining its former title of being the dirty man of Europe, back to the days when we used to dump all our sulphur dioxide pollution from power stations on the rest of Western Europe.

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