Leadsom replaces Elizabeth Truss at the department and her appointment comes after the cabinet reshuffle by the UK’s new Prime Minister Theresa May.
There is currently no news on whether the current resource minister, Rory Stewart, will remain in his post. Stewart’s role currently includes the recycling brief.
Leadsom campaigned for the UK to leave the European Union during last month’s referendum and was a surprise challenger to lead the Conservative Party following the resignation of David Cameron. She came second in a ballot of MPs and was set to challenge May before withdrawing from the race.
Martin Kersh, executive director at the Foodservice Packaging Association said that while he congratulated Leadsom’s appointment, the department has seen many changes in leadership and he called for
“Its disappointing to see yet another change at the top of Defra,” said Kersh. “We need to see longer-term leadership of this hugely important department bearing in mind the manifesto commitment for a 25 year plan for the environment. Along with congratulations to Leadsom must be a plea for her to consider the interests of business in her Department’s policy proposals particularly avoiding added costs and red tape. A Secretary of State at Defra with a strong interest in business would be a very positive development.
“With the dismantling of DECC, will Defra be given responsibility for delivering the obligation of the Climate Change Act to reduce UK’s carbon emissions by 80% from the 1990 baseline? If this were to be the case, then will Leadsom’s business background help to ensure the obligation is achieved without placing huge burdens on business? At the time of writing this we don’t know the make up of Ministerial positions at Defra. We hope Rory Stewart remains in position.We feel the minister has worked hard to understand the UK packaging sector and it would be a great loss to the industry for this understanding and insight to be wasted.”
With the UK’s looming departure from the EU, Leadsom’s department will need to rule on whether the UK intends to replace the EU packaging and packaging waste directive.
In addition, the issue of recycling targets will also need to be tackled. At the end of 2015, the European Commission published its Circular Economy proposals detailing a series of common EU targets for recycling.
With UK expected to be out of the EU in the next two years, Leadsom will have to consider whether the recycling targets remain or if the UK will pursue a radically changed set of targets.
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