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Environment Act 2021


The Environment Act 2021 places a strong emphasis on combating climate change, recognizing its urgent global implications. The act sets legally binding targets for carbon emissions reduction, aiming for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The Environment Act 2021 also acknowledges the current biodiversity loss crisis and introduces measures to safeguard and restore the natural world. It establishes a framework for nature recovery, promoting the conservation and enhancement of habitats and species. Additionally, the act mandates the creation of Local Nature Recovery Strategies, enabling local communities to contribute to the preservation of their natural environments.

Additionally, recognising the need for robust governance systems, the Environment Act 2021 establishes the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). This independent watchdog will monitor environmental progress, enforce compliance, and provide guidance to public authorities. By ensuring accountability and transparency, the OEP plays a crucial role in upholding environmental standards and holding decision-makers accountable for their actions.

Furthermore, the Environment Act 2021:

  • addresses the pressing issue of plastic pollution by introducing measures to tackle single-use plastics and encourages businesses and consumers to adopt more sustainable alternatives. By promoting the principles of the circular economy, the Environment Act 2021 aims to reduce waste and promote resource efficiency; and
  • includes provisions to tackle air pollution, such as granting local authorities powers to implement Clean Air Zones and take action against polluting vehicles. By prioritizing cleaner air, the act strives to create healthier living conditions for communities across the UK.

The Environment Act 2021 was passed on the 9th of November 2021.

The Environment Act 2021 applies to the following countries:

  • United Kingdom;
  • England;
  • Scotland;
  • Wales; and
  • Northern Ireland.

Does the Environment Act 2021 affect my business?

Businesses will need to ensure compliance with the environmental standards outlined in the act. This includes meeting emissions reduction targets, adopting sustainable practices, and minimizing environmental impacts. Non-compliance may lead to penalties or legal consequences, highlighting the importance of integrating environmental considerations into business operations.

The Act’s focus on reducing carbon emissions and tackling plastic pollution will also require businesses to transition towards more sustainable practices. This may involve adopting renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, reducing waste generation, and implementing recycling initiatives. Businesses will need to assess their operations, supply chains, and product life cycles to identify areas for improvement and implement sustainable alternatives.

Furthermore, with measures targeting single-use plastics and promoting resource efficiency, the Environment Act encourages businesses to embrace circular economy principles. This involves designing products for durability, repairability, and recyclability, as well as embracing recycling and waste reduction practices. Businesses will need to reassess their production processes, packaging choices, and waste management strategies to align with circular economy principles.

The Act further emphasises the importance of environmental reporting and transparency. Businesses may be required to disclose their environmental impacts, progress towards targets, and actions taken to mitigate those impacts. This promotes accountability and enables stakeholders to make informed decisions about the environmental performance of businesses. It also provides an opportunity for businesses to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and gain a competitive advantage.

Do I need the Environment Act 2021 in my ISO Compliance Register?

You will need the Environment Act 2021 in your ISO Compliance Register if you are a Regulator or a Local Authority with responsibility for reporting or enforcing the new requirements, or if your business falls under the following categories:

  • Large Corporations;
  • Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs);
  • Industries with High Environmental Impacts;
  • Retail and Consumer Goods manufacturing and distributing; and
  • Construction and Infrastructure.

The Environment Act 2021 presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses. Compliance with environmental standards, adoption of sustainable practices, transition to circular economy principles, reporting transparency, collaboration, and the potential for market opportunities are key aspects that businesses need to consider in light of this legislation. Embracing sustainability can not only ensure compliance but also drive innovation, enhance brand reputation, and contribute to a more sustainable and resilient future.

Legislation related to the Environment Act 2021

Legislation related to the Environment Act 2021 include:

  • Environment Act 1995
  • Environmental Protection Act 1990
  • The REACH Enforcement Regulations
  • Environment (Wales) Act 2016

More information

Visit the Environment Act 2021 article on the website.

Create an account in the ISO Compliance Register App and add this article to your Register.