The Government has “missed an opportunity”, according to the waste and resources industry, which has reacted to the Government’s Waste Prevention Programme for England published yesterday (11 Dec) with little enthusiasm.
The Programme report, Prevention is Better than Cure, frames itself around the importance of reduction, redesign, re-use, repair and rethinking, and has set out initiatives such as £800,000 pledged for a two-year scheme to support communities to take forward innovative waste prevention, re-use and repair actions that are much needed.
Steve Lee, CIWM – “I suspect that many in the industry will be disappointed with this Waste Prevention Programme, but we must remember that waste prevention and resource efficiency are no less important for a lack-lustre national programme”
It also announced a new Sustainable Electrical Action Plan (SEAP), which will be developed to encourage businesses to design products to last longer, and a Postcode Locator that will help people find out where they can get things repaired or pass on things for others to buy.
However, according to the waste and resources industry, the key drivers that will move the country away from landfill and towards a society focused on prevention and re-use are still missing from the Programme.
The Welsh and Scottish Governments recently published their plans, which both featured series of annual milestones and targets to reduce waste. England’s, however – whilst it has objectives – has no targets or timescales attached.
Keep Britain Tidy
“England is often quoted as leading the way on waste and resource issues in Europe but we have seen this leadership rapidly erode since the Coalition Government took power.
“While the waste hierarchy has been enshrined in UK law, England has neglected its duties to follow it. The publication of a waste prevention programme gave an opportunity for England to demonstrate commitment to more sustainable economy. Instead it chose to discard waste prevention and instead set England on course for greater waste generation.
“Whilst there are some welcome proposals to support waste prevention for businesses and consumers, there are also important omissions in today’s announcement.
“The Government has already set challenging recycling targets, but mechanisms which are crucial to the delivery of those targets are still missing. Until we stop encouraging the export of recyclates ahead of domestic processing, until we introduce incentives to incorporate the use of recycled content in new products and until we have a mandatory code of practice for materials recycling facilities we won’t have the regulatory framework to underpin a truly circular economy. Today is a missed opportunity.”
“The Plan is to be commended for being underpinned by a strong rationale, evidence base and comprehensive and well researched compelling case for waste prevention. It’s such a pity therefore that it doesn’t carry the strongest of signals and leadership position that an overarching target could have provided. We agree wholeheartedly with Government (p12) that “everyone has a stake and a part to play” but not with the view stated that ‘no single actor has responsibility or oversight’.
“We believe that Government does have the leadership role here in ensuring that stakeholders with many interests are working to a clear strategy with clear targets and shared objectives.”
Environmental Services Association:
“There are a number of interesting ideas in the Waste Prevention Plan for England which should help promote waste prevention as part of the circular economy.
“While there is much to applaud in today’s document, it remains to be seen whether Defra and WRAP have the political will and the resources to follow up all these ideas and help make them happen.”
CIWM chief executive, Steve Lee, said: “Some elements of the programme are particularly welcome, most notably the significant amount of supporting information and the signal of leadership from government in tackling blockages to investment in more resource efficient business models. However, without further work, it will not deliver the step change in society’s attitudes to resources and waste that is needed.
“We wanted to see English Government adopt a leading role in Europe, working for common standards and exploring far-reaching resource efficiency measures including taxation, new product standards, and producer responsibility mechanisms. But we see none of this in the programme.
“We wanted clear leadership by government in terms of communications to provide strong overarching messages and underpin awareness raising activities by the wide range of partners involved in waste prevention. We see a nod in that direction but not much more.
“I suspect that many in the industry will be disappointed with this Waste Prevention Programme, but we must remember that waste prevention and resource efficiency are no less important for a lacklustre national programme. This industry, together with its new partners elsewhere in the resources cycle, needs to commit to working on the basics such as data gathering and analysis, as well as driving for early wins in areas such as re-use.
This is a programme we hope will be refined and improved in the light of experience and new information, particularly from Wales and Scotland who have taken a more proactive and ambitious approach. It is time for us to learn and improve collectively rather than turning our backs because we don’t see everything we wanted in version 1.0.”
For the full CIWM statement CLICK HERE
For the Waste Prevention Programme For England CLICK HERE