Government Responds To Efra Report Into Waste Management In England

Government has responded to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee report into waste management in England, after the Committee set out recommendations following its enquiry.

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)

Defra announced last year that it would be “stepping back” from waste policy, where “businesses are better placed to act and there is no clear market failure”. The Committee asked for clarification on the definition and interpretation of this.

Defra reiterated that it had not “stepped back” from all waste and resource management policy, but “refocused activities in areas that only Government can and must do.” 

It said “market failure” refers to a situation where the market has not and cannot itself be expected to deliver an efficient outcome.

Defra – “The Coalition Government currently has no plans to reintroduce statutory recycling targets for local authorities”

“As in the case of overall resource efficiency policy, we are focussed on identifying evidence of market failures such as misaligned incentives, where detrimental outcomes fall on individuals or organisations that were not the source of the action or where the regulatory framework may be ineffective,” it said.

With regards to stagnating recycling rates in England, Efra recommend that Defra considers introducing refreshed policies and re-introducing requirements such as statutory recycling targets for councils. 

Defra pointed to the fact that many local authorities have already surpassed 50% recycling rates and some have rates in excess of 60% and that it believes local authorities should lead on determining the most appropriate recycling arrangements for their area, taking into account local circumstances.

“The Coalition Government currently has no plans to reintroduce statutory recycling targets for local authorities,” it said.

Reiterating its lack of support for rigid targets, specifically regarding the 70% recycling target by 2030 (as set before the European Commission (EC) dropped the circular economy package), Defra said it does not support stringent new targets “unless there are clear economic and environmental benefits that exceed the costs.”

Defra – “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”

The EC recently announced the withdrawal of its proposal to amend EU waste legislation and for it to be replaced by a new, “more ambitious” proposal by end 2015 to promote a circular economy. (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.

In response to the Committee report urging Defra to increase funding to WRAP “if evidence suggests it necessary in the lead up to 2020”, the Government said priorities must be made to ensure that work undertaken makes the best use of public funding, suggesting funding will not be increased.

Efra said that it also encouraged government to move towards “banning the landfilling of all recyclable waste by 2025”.

Defra said it believes there are “more efficient” options than restrictions in this area, and evidence suggests that restrictions would likely impose additional costs on businesses, particularly SMEs.

“It is only once EU negotiations on any new proposal have substantively concluded that Defra would have sufficient clarity to consider what further action, including on support and infrastructure, will be necessary to meet future EU measures,” it said.

For the Government’s full response CLICK HERE


 

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