Exporting polluting plastic waste to developing countries will be banned or restricted under a new law

The rule presented to the UK Parliament is aimed at protecting poorer nations against becoming the dumping ground for unwanted rubbish.

The latest trade data shows that some 356,233 tonnes of plastic waste was sent for recycling from the UK to developing countries in 2018.

The plastic often ends up dumped in waterways.

This has resulted in many developing countries.

The revised Environment Bill also rules that firms producing packaging must take more responsibility for products and materials they put on the market.

Environmentalists say the bill should also include measures to reduce the amount of plastic produced in the first place.

Other powers in the bill include the promise of legally-binding targets to reduce air pollution from ultra-fine particles known as PM2.5s.

There’s also a framework for long-term legal targets to support nature and improve the quality of air and water.

How strong is the new bill?

Green groups have welcomed much of the bill but they say that, in some ways, it still leaves environmental protection weaker than under the EU.

They are especially concerned about the role of a proposed new “independent” environmental watchdog that will replace the over-seeing power of the EU and hold ministers to account for their policies after Brexit.

The EU can threaten to fine nations that fail to meet environmental laws – that threat forced the UK to tackle air pollution more seriously.

Plastic waste

The new Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) won’t have the power to fine the government. What’s more, its members will be appointed by ministers, so critics say it won’t be fully independent.

The government says it will still hold ministers to account – including on the issue of the UK meeting its 2050 Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions target.

Most of the clauses in the draft legislation were unveiled before the election.

The revised bill introduces the promise of a two-yearly review of significant developments in international environmental legislation to ensure the UK keeps up with green protections.

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