England Risks Missing Recycling Targets, Warns Efra Report

The Government must act to increase recycling rates across England by 2020, say MPs today (22 October) in a report of an inquiry triggered by Defra’s decision to step back from areas of waste management. 

MPs also call on Government to ensure that only genuinely residual waste is sent to energy-from-waste plants and to do more to encourage the use of heat outputs from such facilities to improve the overall energy efficiency of this waste management method.

Launching a report on Waste management in England, the chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra), Anne McIntosh said: “Defra ‘stepped back’ from waste management at a time when we need both a more ambitious approach to waste management and stronger Government leadership to drive up static recycling rates in England and make better use of energy recovery options such as local heating for homes. Ministers must now show that waste policy remains an important priority.”

The Committee says that it recognises the benefits of valuing waste as a resource and calls for sustainable waste and resource management to play a key role in achieving Defra’s Coalition priority to improve the environment.

It urges Defra to achieve the “highest possible recycling rates”. MPs argue that local authorities should remain responsible for resolving specific challenges and barriers faced at a local level, but call on Defra to promote best practice at a national level.

 Anne McIntosh, Efra – “Defra ‘stepped back’ from waste management at a time when we need both a more ambitious approach to waste management and stronger Government leadership… Ministers must now show that waste policy remains an important priority”

“On a household level there is too much confusion about what can or can’t be recycled—and very little confidence in the process” explains McIntosh. “Communication must improve and be tailored to local circumstances, but Defra should provide support at a national level—particularly in relation to common issues and problems.” 

The Committee calls for clear guidance from Defra on how much waste treatment capacity is needed in England to gain an optimal balance between the export of refuse-derived fuel and local treatment.

MPs support the use of anaerobic digestion for processing waste, but not for use with purpose-grown crops.

The Committee also warns that more work is needed to address the issues surrounding separate food waste collections.

“Too much food waste is still sent to landfill, but separate food waste collections can be disproportionately expensive and difficult to implement in practice,” McIntosh said. “The Government must find practical ways to divert more food waste out of the residual stream but in ways that suit local circumstances”.

MPs also call on the Government take action to curb the frequent occurrence of fires at waste management sites.

Efra’s enquiry into waste and resource management in the UK came about after a letter to the industry from resource Minister Dan Rogerson revealed that: “From April 2014 we will be stepping back in areas where businesses are better placed to act and there is no clear market failure.”

As part of its enquiry the Committee took evidence from various industry figures, including WRAP CEO Liz Goodwin; CIWM’s chief executive Steve Lee; Jacob Hayler, Economist, ESA; Jonathan Short, founder of ECO Plastics; Dr Andy Rees, head of waste strategy branch for the Welsh Government and Dan Rogerson himself.

 Ray Georgeson, Resource Association – “We congratulate the Efra Committee on a strong analysis and clear recommendations that we support”

Responding to the report, Ray Georgeson, chief executive of the Resource Association said: “We congratulate the Efra Committee on a strong analysis and clear recommendations that we support. We note in particular that the Committee has asked Defra to reconsider statutory recycling targets for local authorities – this is an important recommendation and reflects the urgency with which the achievement of 2020 recycling targets needs to be addressed afresh.”

“We welcome the Committee’s acknowledgement that much more needs to be done to communicate regularly and effectively with the public to raise recycling rates, and to address public confidence in the recycling process and understanding of where recycling goes.
“Our End Destination of Recycling Charter has played a role, but we wholeheartedly welcome the Committee’s recommendation that statutory reporting of end destination is required.
“At the very least, we invite Defra Ministers to echo the response of officials in their evidence by extending greater public support to the End Destination Charter and we extend an open invitation to Dan Rogerson to meet with us and Charter signatories to explore ways of extending the reach of the Charter.”

For the full report CLICK HERE


 

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