Over recent years, there has been an upsurge in public interest in the environment and in climate change.
Television programmes like Blue Planet and high-profile campaigns such as Sky Ocean Rescue have propelled issues such as waste, pollution and recycling to the forefront of popular concern.
Coupled with hotter summers and colder winters, public awareness about the impact of climate change has never been higher.
“It is time for us to be responsible for our own waste
Since China started refusing to take our waste in 2018, the UK has been exporting it to countries with some of the highest levels of ocean plastic pollution.
We have to clean up our natural environment and halt the flow of plastic and other waste into our oceans. For far too long we have behaved as though the Earth has an unlimited supply of everything we need, and is a bottomless rubbish bin into which we can throw things when we no longer feel the need for them.
It is time for us to be responsible for our own waste. Local authorities are responsible for recycling and they are doing all they can to increase recycling levels, working with residents and businesses to collect as much recyclable material as they can.
All councils collect paper and 99 per cent collect plastics to recycle. Many local authorities also offer recycling facilities for materials such as glass and food waste, as well as clothing and electrics.
The things we use have an environmental cost as well as a financial cost: the environment and climate emergency demands that we act differently and local authorities are leading the way in doing so.
Air quality is a public health and a climate emergency, causing ill-health and premature death in our towns and cities.
Once again, councils are the ones leading the way in taking measures to tackle air quality – such as introducing clean air zones in town and city centres, encouraging electric vehicle use, cleaning up public transport, encouraging residents to change how they travel to work, and much more.
But the Government needs to empower local authorities to take further bold and radical action to tackle air quality by giving them the powers they need to take the right steps which will work for local communities – and no time should be wasted in doing so.
Brexit has shifted the focus away from critical issues such as the climate emergency and the Government needs to refocus efforts in this area. We need to take a new look at what we make, buy and use, at how we live and travel, and take real action.
The Labour Party nationally has been calling for a green industrial revolution, transforming the economy into one that is efficient and green with new jobs.
Reducing waste, managing what we have in a sustainable manner and tackling poor air quality must play a vital part in this revolution, and local authorities must play a key role in this.