Posted: 14/06/2024

Election Manifestos – Climate Change, Recycling & Plastics – What’s Included?

With the General Election being held on 4 July, the political parties have published their manifestos, which have included promises and approaches to climate change, recycling and plastics. Steve Morgan has outlined the main points, including the number of mentions of some key words for each party, in a busy week in politics!

Leading the way with key words is ‘Climate Change’ (21), ‘Net Zero’ (17), ‘Pollution’ (16) and ‘Recycling’ (11), albeit eight of the eleven mentions of ‘Recycling’ were included by one party.  ‘Waste’ (4), ‘Plastic’ (3) ‘Packaging’ (1) are barely mentioned, and ‘Producer Responsibility’ is not included in any of the manifestos.

Although looking at key words is interesting, it is an indication only. The effectiveness of any political party maybe not be about the quantity of the use of these words, but the overall aim, ambition and drive to deliver on environmental policies that are mentioned, or at least referred to. One key mention could lead the way to far reaching change.

The manifestos outlined in no particular order and the information does not show or intend to show support for any party.

The Conservatives

Looking at waste and recycling, in “Our plan to support our rural way of life and enhance our environment”, on page 67 it states they will:

  • Take comprehensive action to crack down on organised waste crime, especially those who impact protected nature sites, and to use enhanced penalties for fly tipping, giving councils the tools to help tackle offenders.
  • Continue to develop a UK-wide DRS, while promising to minimise the impact on businesses and consumers.
  • That increased recycling rates will reduce the need for incineration capacity in the longer term, and they will also prevent new waste incinerators being built, including those with recent permit approvals or where substantial construction has not taken place.

The main focus on Climate Change and Net Zero is on pages 49 and 50 through ‘Our plan for an affordable and pragmatic transition to net zero’ and how they will cut the cost of tackling climate change for households and business and deliver net zero by 2050.

In ‘Our plan to secure our nation from global uncertainty’, on pages 34 and 34 they state they will maintain the leadership on climate change at COP26 and efforts to tackle global warming and biodiversity loss and will continue the commitment to International Climate Finance.

Climate change – 8 / Net Zero – 10 / Pollution – 4 / Recycling – 1 / Waste – 2 / Plastic – 0 / Packaging – 0 / Producer Responsibility – 0


The Labour Party

The second point of Labour’s five missions to rebuild Britain on page 13 is to “Make Britain a clean energy superpower to cut bills, create jobs and deliver security with cheaper, zero-carbon electricity by 2030, accelerating to net zero”.

More information is outlined from pages 47-59, stating:

  • Commitment to reducing waste by moving to a circular economy.
  • Climate change can be complementary to economic growth, energy security, lower bills, and addressing climate change.
  • A national mission for clean power by 2030 is achievable and should be prioritised.
  • They will ensure the institutional framework for policy making reflects commitments to reach net zero and meet our carbon budgets and make the UK the green finance capital of the world including mandating UK-regulated financial institutions and FTSE 100 companies to develop and implement credible transition plans that align with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.

In ‘Britain Reconnected’ on pages 122 and 123 it states the urgency of the climate and nature crisis without co-ordinated global action and a failure to act will cause environmental devastation. It also states about being climate leaders at home, including meeting targets ensuring strong global leadership needed to tackle the climate crisis. Labour will create a new Clean Power Alliance by bringing together a coalition of countries “at the cutting edge of climate action”.

Climate change – 4 / Net Zero – 3 / Pollution – 1 / Recycling – 0 / Waste – 0 / Plastic – 0 / Packaging – 0 / Producer Responsibility – 0

Liberal Democrats

In Chapter 12 on the ‘Natural Environment’, they promise to create a nature-positive economy, tackle plastic pollution and waste, and “get Britain recycling” by:

  • Introducing a DRS for food and drink bottles and containers, working with the devolved administrations to ensure consistency across the UK, learning the lessons from the difficulties with the Scottish scheme.
  • Aiming for the complete elimination of non-recyclable single-use plastics within three years and replacing them with affordable alternatives.
  • Working to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 through the UN High Seas Treaty and finalising a Global Plastics Treaty to cut plastic pollution worldwide.
  • Setting an ambition of ending plastic waste exports by 2030.

Climate change comes third in the list of priorities in the manifesto, after the economy and business and jobs.

In Chapter 2 on ’A fair deal on the environment’ they promised to:

  • Put tackling climate change at the heart of a new industrial strategy.
  • Provide skills training, incentives and advice to help families and businesses with the transition to net zero.

Chapter 4 on ‘Business and Jobs’ outlines that they would cut resource use, waste and pollution by accelerating the transition to a more circular economy that maximises the recovery, reuse, recycling and remanufacturing of products.

In Chapter 5 on ‘Climate Change and Energy’ they would urgent action needed to tackle climate change and take action needed now to achieve net zero by 2045, including:

  • Meeting the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions by at least 68% from 1990 levels by 2030.
  • Requiring the National Infrastructure Commission to take fully into account the environmental implications of all national infrastructure decisions.

Climate change – 4 / Net Zero – 3 / Pollution – 5 / Plastic – 1 / Recycling – 2 / Waste – 2 / Packaging – 0 / Producer Responsibility – 0

Green Party

In ‘Creating A Fairer, Greener Economy’ from pages 13-16 to:

  • A Green Economic Transformation.
  • Phasing out fossil fuels.
  • A just transition to a zero-carbon economy.
  • In ‘Resource Use’ to increase the scope of bans on the production of single-use plastics for use in packaging and disposable products such as baby wipes.
  • In ‘A Green Economic Transformation’ to allocate £50billion to retrofitting buildings, installing non-fossil fuel heating systems, and adapting homes for a climate changed world.

On page 15 it specifically states in ‘Research, development and skills’ to increase investment into research and development with additional spending primarily focused on tackling the climate and environmental crisis through funding research into areas, including:

  • Re-use, repair, recycling and designing out waste.
  • Carbon neutral construction; carbon-neutral production
  • Carbon capture technology.

In ‘Respecting the limits of the planet’ on pages 15 and 16 it also includes:

  • Advocating for a circular economy that reduces the waste of resources.
  • Manufacturers to offer ten-year warranties on white goods, to encourage repair and reuse.
  • Introduce a comprehensive ‘right to repair’, so manufacturers keep goods operational years after purchase and to eliminate built-in obsolescence.
  • Require manufacturers to produce only the most energy efficient white goods, TVs, lighting and electric cookers to encourage a shift from an ownership to a usership model, for example through car-sharing platforms and neighbourhood libraries for tools and equipment.

In ‘Providing Fairer, Greener Homes for All’ on pages 7-9 in ‘minimising the climate impact of new homes and buildings’ includes:

  • Planning applications will be required to include whole-life carbon and energy calculations.
  • Materials from demolished buildings will need to be considered for reuse and rates for disposal of builders’ waste will be increased to ensure that the economic driver for reuse is in place.

Other policies included are:

  • Powering up Fairer, Greener Energy (pages 10-12).
  • A Fairer and Greener Approach to Public Finances (pages 20-22).
  • Bringing Nature Back to Life (pages 23-24).
  • A Greener and Fairer Food and Farming System (pages 27-28).

Climate change – 5 / Net Zero – 1 / Pollution – 6 / Plastic – 1 / Recycling – 1 / Waste – 8 / Packaging – 1 / Producer Responsibility – 0