Gov Should See Waste As “Opportunity”, Not “Potential Cost”

The Government’s response to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s (Efra) report into waste management in England published yesterday (12 Jan) does little to boost the long-term confidence of investors in the sector, which should be seen as an opportunity, not just a cost, according to industry reaction.

The report, Waste management in England, concluded that Government must act to increase recycling rates across England by 2020, or risk failing to meet EU recycling targets. (See CIWM Journal Online story)

The Government’s response was labelled as having “lack of vision and ambition”.

The banning of recyclables from landfill and introducing statutory recycling targets for local authorities was recommended by the report, as well as increasing WRAP funding. All of which Defra rejected. (See CIWM Journal Online story)

“We will want to ensure that the Commission’s anticipated new proposal to promote circular economy will allow flexibility, ensure that costs are justified by expected impacts and create an environment that welcomes innovation,” Defra said.

English councils will, however, from April be required to record additional information on the end destination of the residual waste and recyclate they collect.

Responses to the WasteDataFlow system will include a new “Question 100”, obliging councils to reveal all treatments and final destinations of residual, recycling, reuse and composting waste.

FCC – “Our industry needs a clear vision to provide investors with the long term confidence to make the large investments in waste management infrastructure required to increase recycling”

FCC Environment submitted evidence to the Committee, stating that the sector needs confidence to invest in the additional recycling facilities required to achieve the EU target of recycling 50% of household waste by 2020.

Paul Taylor, FCC Environment’s chief executive officer, commented: “Our industry needs a clear vision to provide investors with the long term confidence to make the large investments in waste management infrastructure required to increase recycling.

FCC Environment also urged Government to continue to fund local authorities for the collection of recyclable materials at source and provide best practice guidance to encourage a more consistent approach to waste collections across local authorities.

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) commented, saying that Government “lacks ambition”.

ESA’s executive director, Jacob Hayler said: “It is apparent from its response to the Efra Committee report that the Government continues to see waste as a potential cost and not an opportunity.

Defra – “We continue to support local authorities’ efforts to promote recycling and are working with WRAP to see what more we can do and what further measures may be needed to achieve this”

“We should not be waiting for Europe to show us how to exploit the untapped value in our waste resources. We should be putting in place the framework now to maximise the jobs and investment, which could flow from building a modern and competitive circular economy in the UK.”

Ray Georgeson, chief executive of the Resource Association, said the industry is “hungry” for leadership from Government.

“But for now building our own cross-industry consensus on policy priorities must be paramount as we prepare for the General Election and also the possibility of fresh policy proposals from the EU Commission,” he said.

Dan Cooke, director of external affairs, Viridor, commented: “With the general election fast approaching, today’s response from government again fails to build on the positive progress made in recent years and to recognise the real contribution resource and waste energy can play at the heart of Britain’s green economy.” 

“We all have a responsibility to use our resources more carefully and reduce waste,” a Defra spokesperson said. “The Government continues to support this by providing a robust legal framework to help enforcement agencies and industry take action, securing an additional £5m to tackle waste crime and helping consumers save £1.5bn worth of food since 2007.

“We are also committed to recycling 50 percent of our household waste by 2020 and the significant progress we’ve made over the past ten years reflects a great deal of hard work by local authorities and a desire from householders to recycle more.

“We continue to support local authorities’ efforts to promote recycling and are working with WRAP to see what more we can do and what further measures may be needed to achieve this.”

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