Government consults on waste proposals

Among the Government's proposals put forward in a major consultation on the waste problem in England is giving a greater strategic role to local authorities.

Minister for Local Environment Quality Ben Bradshaw said that the Government's current strategy needed a broader approach and a change of emphasis: "We've made some really positive progress since 2000: recycling and composting of household waste has doubled, nearly 50% of packaging waste is being recycled and less waste is being sent to landfill.

"But there is more to do in order to achieve our aim to reduce our rising streams of waste and bury less of it in landfills by making use of the valuable resources it contains.

"To achieve this the revised waste strategy will offer a clearer, longer-term vision for waste and resource management, linked closely with our action plan on sustainable production and consumption."

The proposals include making proper use of new investment to recover energy from waste as an alternative to landfill but not at the expense of practical waste prevention and recycling by seeing a more modest growth than original estimates.

The proposals set a target for 67% recovery of waste by 2015 but with much higher levels (45%) of recycling and composting than the 2000 strategy.

However, Friends of the Earth's Waste and Resource Campaigner, Anna Watson, was critical of Government plans to incinerate more waste: “The Government is trying to sell incinerators to the British public as sources of green energy yet this is nothing more then a cynical exercise in spin.

"Recycling saves more energy than is created by burning waste, and once built incinerators lock councils in to supplying them with large amounts of waste that could be better recycled or composted."

However, the UK incinerates less than 10% of its waste and is an option favoured by Government to help tackle a growing waste problem.

Among the measures being proposed are:
  • A greater focus on producing less waste by developing a greater emphasis on eco-design, more producer responsibility schemes and increased engagement with businesses and householders in waste prevention;
  • Developing a recycling culture by shifting thinking so that the recycling of resources is part of everyday activities;
  • A national procurement strategy to facilitate effective procurement of investment;
  • Recovering more resources from waste from businesses with new targets for a reduction in the amount of commercial and industrial waste going to landfills.
The public consultation will conclude in May.


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