Our Independent Group members have been working on EU legislation unveiled this week, designed to reduce the plastic microbeads in toothpaste and cosmetics and incentivising the re-use and recycling of plastic.
Although her party was split on the Brexit issues, it seems Theresa May tempted voters across by taking on UKIP’s policies. So what will happen if the Blue party goes really Green?
I have been shocked to see plastic bags littering even remote and beautiful African desert areas. Much of our plastic waste seems to end up in the sea. Most of us will have seen David Attenborough's Blue Planet series clearly explaining the marine impact on our finite oceans.
Our Independent Group members have been working on EU legislation unveiled this week, designed to reduce the plastic microbeads in toothpaste and cosmetics and incentivising the re-use and recycling of plastic. The 2015 European Directive included reduction of disposable plastics, though England was relatively slow at putting this in place, with Wales ahead. Denmark put their legislation in place in 1994.
Britain has been shipping our non-recyclable plastics to China cheaply in the same tankers that brought goods to the UK. Now we find that China figures as the country with by far the most mismanaged plastic waste of all and will not take any more.
According to EU First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, so the Government's deadline of 2046 is not exactly stretching. Indeed it may well be overtaken by councils and private enterprise taking the initiative, Iceland (the supermarket) among them.
Thanks to many of our members who contributed to the LGA submission on the Green Paper that finally led to the Government announcements this week. It was one of the hottest topics of our task groups. We also supported old-fashioned deposits which the government has not yet embraced. Already the Green conference has trialled deposits on recyclable coffee cups. Local shops are well placed to change over to wrapping items in paper or waxed paper and to encourage residents to bring their own baskets or bags. Some of our members are putting motions to council to remove non-recyclable plastic and microbeads from their council by the end of the year, never mind 2046!
What is recyclable has been partly governed by what is profitable for our various contractors. Some councils have combined their waste stream into a single contract, making it less confusing for residents moving between areas and in some cases, cheaper to run. Some councils work with businesses on waste minimisation, enhancing their local economy at the same time. Our members have plenty of good ideas to suggest at budget time, perhaps to be worked up through scrutiny and in place by next year.
So Theresa May is embracing the EU legislation that will be adopted by the UK. Thanks to our members for their work in developing it and the consequent UK regulations.
It seems no bulletin can be complete without an update on the pressing financial situation that local government faces. The Welsh Council finance settlement is already made but the final announcements for England are due on 22 February 2018. Following some success on the rural grants and 10 business rate pilots, as I mentioned last week, I had a meeting with our Minister, Sajid Javid, and his new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Local Government) Rishi Sunak MP (following the reshuffle), on your behalf, in a further bid to seek funds prior to the final announcements. I made the case for funding for councils from Income Tax and for continuing freedom to raise funds by means other than Council Tax, without unnecessary restrictions.
And finally, the LGA is also working with the receivers to make our case following the sudden collapse of Carillion. We are collating the impact on public services, capital projects, small subcontractors and pension funds. Congratulations to councils on keeping services running successfully.