Environmental Law in 2014: What You Should Know

Environmental Law in 2014: What You Should Know

An Overview Of Environmental Regulations & Initiatives

The momentum to protect the environment will cause UK consumers and businesses to address new environmental regulations and trends in 2014. Many of the new policies will affect every sector of industry.

We can expect to see stricter enforcement of recycling programs and waste distribution laws. In Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has created a new wing to regulate and enforce proper waste policy. The Waste Crime Team will have the authority to levy fines on repeat or gross offenders. How we manage our waste, how we recycle and how we increase the sustainability of goods we use and manufacture is of utmost concern to environmentalists and the European Commission.

Climate Change Act

In 2013, the UK launched its new initiative, the Climate Change Act. The multi-dimensional act requires that all UK-listed businesses must include their carbon emission tallies in their annual reports. All company reports posted after September 30, 2013, must include this information.

The law will allow competitors and consumers to properly evaluate who are the responsible and compliant providers and which companies have catching up to do. It is believed, and hoped, that this public information will get broad coverage. It remains to be seen if consumers and investors will be influenced by these carbon emission tallies, but this information is crucial.

Under provisions of the Climate Change Act, the sentencing council established guidelines for penalties that were to be introduced by February, 2014. Fines for environmental infractions by businesses will be tariff-based and substantial.

Penalties for companies with turnovers of more than £6.5m (medium businesses) and those whose volume exceeded £25.9 million (big businesses) will be especially hard hit for environmental law violations.

This represents a major change. In the past, environmental infractions have been met with a mere slap on the wrist. Now, companies will be taking funds from the bottom line to cover their environmental indiscretions.

Water Offsetting

There is broader on an international level for water offsetting in 2014. Under this policy, businesses will commit to water reduction programmes. Companies will be obligated to acquire water allowances to offset the company’s water use. This practice supports the belief that water shortage will be one of the foremost universal environmental challenges of the future. Water foot printing and offsets are just the initial stages of addressing this critically important issue.

Fracking

UK policy against fracking remains entrenched. Advocates suggest that fracking will lead to reduced energy prices and will add jobs to the economy. How many long-term jobs is unclear.

The opponents of fracking strive to protect the landscape, the environment and nation’s water supply against unnecessary risks.

Renewable Heat Incentive

The Renewable Heat Incentive and Green deal are elements of an expansive and innovative green subsidy scheme. However these programmes pose an interesting dilemma for a government with conflicting programmes. Deep revisions should be expected.

Plastics Manufacturing

The plastics industry has come under pressure to reduce carbon emissions and improve the sustainability of its products. New developments take place in this critical component of the nation’s GDP regularly.

While recycling efforts have proceeded, the European omission standards are high and in general the UK lags behind more aggressive nations in meeting the standards.

Look for the production and distribution of bio-plastics in efforts to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and increase the industry’s sustainability. Many bio-plastic products have a net zero carbon effect, are highly sustainable and biodegradable. This is the direction the plastics industry is headed. We are making great headway in this industry, and we’re proud of our environmentally-friendly products that have revolutionised the market.

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