Its six weeks since I last wrote a LOL piece and not only has the season changed with it beginning to feel a lot like winter, it also feels like a lot of change is on the horizon for our industry and the political landscape in general. We have the uncertainty of what will happen following December’s general election; Brexit is delayed again, although we’ve not yet seen the ditch full of a dead Prime Minister, and Operation Yellowhammer has been stood down.
The Environment Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech just 2 weeks ago, and had its second reading on Monday 28th Oct where it passed unopposed. However the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is launching an inquiry and the Environmental Audit Committee has published its response, saying that it is not “fit for purpose”. The Bill is to go through a timetabled process of readings, which will be affected by the general election no doubt, but this is the primary legislation that will support the Government’s Environment Plan and Resources and Waste Strategy, and so has quite a lot of importance for local authorities. LARAC produced a briefing note for members the day after the Bill was announced, so I hope you found this useful.
Plastics continue to dominate the news headlines, with at least one plastic related story every day in our trade media. Whether it’s using 100% recycled plastic in products, reducing the use of virgin plastic or eliminating plastic use completely, there’s no deceleration to this very media focussed topic. Therefore I was not surprised to see the RECOUP conference at the end of September was very well attended, and had a diverse audience from all walks of plastic life. Tom Heap of Countryfile fame chaired a morning session and I also heard a new word used – plastiphobia. So not only are the public “confused” about the “many” different recycling schemes, now local authority officers all over the UK have to deal with the widespread demonisation of plastics by their residents. We know plastics have a useful role in the packaging industry, but now we are tasked with helping to get this message across to members of the public.I chaired my second LARAC conference at the beginning of October and this was also very well attended at our new venue in Birmingham, the Hilton Metropole. Having the majority of attendees under one roof felt such a big improvement and I am pleased to announce that we will be returning there again next year, with the dates being 14th and 15th October 2020 - put them in your calendar now. We know there are a few points we want to improve on for next year and we will also be asking for delegates’ feedback shortly, but in the meantime the slides, photos and awards winners are all featured on the LARAC conference website – www.laracconference.co.uk