24 May 2007 02:12 PM
Miliband publishes strategy to cut waste

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (News Release ref : 148/07) issued by The Government News Network on 24 May 2007

Environment Secretary David Miliband today published a new strategy for cutting waste, and said that everyone - businesses, individuals, local authorities and the Government - has a role to play by reducing the waste they produce. He said that this would be an essential part of the drive to tackle climate change - landfilled waste is a major source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, while reducing and recycling waste saves energy and raw materials.

Following calls from local authorities, the Government is also launching a parallel public consultation on removing the ban on local authorities introducing financial incentives for recycling. Any such schemes will have to return all revenues back to local residents.

The main points of the waste strategy include:

* More effective incentives for individuals and businesses to recycle waste, leading to at least 40 per cent of household waste recycled or composted by 2010, rising to 50 per cent by 2020. This is a significant increase on the targets in the previous waste strategy, published in 2000.

* A greater responsibility on businesses for the environmental impact of their products and operations through, for example, a drive to minimise packaging and higher targets for recycling packaging.

* A strong emphasis on waste prevention with householders reducing their waste (for example, through home composting and reducing food waste) and business helping consumers, for example, with less packaging. There will also be a new national target to help measure this - to reduce the amount of household waste not re-used, recycled or composted from 22.2 million tonnes in 2000 to 12.2 million tonnes by 2020 - a reduction of 45 per cent.

* Government has agreed with the Direct Marketing Association to develop a service so that people will be able to opt-out of receiving unaddressed as well as addressed direct mail. The Government is also considering moving towards an approach where people would only get direct mail if they opted in by placing their name on the direct mail register.

* Working with retailers for the end of free single use bags. This could involve retailers only selling long-life bags, or retailers charging for disposable bags and using the proceeds to sell long-life bags at a discount.

* A challenge to see recycling extended from the home and office and taken into public areas like shopping malls, train stations and cinema multiplexes, so that it becomes a natural part of everyday life. To help deliver this, the Government is working with owners of public spaces to draw up guidance and a voluntary code of practice to be published by the end of the year. Groups including the Airport Operators Association, British Council of Shopping Centres, Earls Court and Olympia Group, Highways Agency and the Local Government Association have already come out in support of this. In particular, the Royal Parks has committed to putting recycling bins in all its parks within the next 12 months and the Association of Event Venues says its members plan to install recycling bins for waste brought in by audiences at major events.

* Subject to further analysis and consultation, banning biodegradable and recyclable waste from being put into landfill sites.

* An increase in the landfill tax escalator by £8 per year from 2008 until at least 2010/11 - announced by the Chancellor in March. Partly as a result of this, business waste landfilled is expected to fall by 20 per cent by 2010 compared with 2004.

* Increasing the amount of energy produced by a variety of energy from waste schemes, using waste that can't be reused or recycled. It is expected that from 2020 a quarter of municipal waste - waste collected by local authorities, mainly from households - will produce energy, compared to 10 per cent today.

David Miliband said:

"We need to not only recycle and reuse waste, but also prevent it in the first place. And there's a particular challenge for businesses to produce less waste with their products, so consumers have less of it to dispose of.

"The result will be a win for individuals, who will have a cleaner, safer local environment, while potentially saving money, and a win for the wider environment because it'll reduce landfilled waste which contributes to climate change.

"This strategy sets out how we can achieve this. It provides a range of tools for local authorities, businesses and individuals to do the job. It calls for action from all, without imposing one-size-fits-all solutions.

"It empowers local authorities to make the right decisions for local circumstances in consultation with their local populations."

The waste strategy also sets out the Government's view that there are strong environmental arguments for encouraging more separate collection of food waste to boost composting and anaerobic digestion. Where food is collected separately, evidence suggests higher recovery levels are achieved by collecting it weekly.

Despite significant progress in recent years - household recycling has quadrupled in England in the last 10 years - the UK still lags behind much of Europe on recycling.

Removing the ban on local authorities introducing financial incentive schemes, would see those who recycle more and produce less residual waste, getting money back. Experience in other countries shows such schemes boost recycling and reduce waste overall - cutting the cost of waste disposal to councils and householders.

The strategy makes clear that initiatives to boost recycling should be supported by effective action to prevent fly tipping and the illegal dumping of waste.

It also outlines action the Government proposes for its own estate - a 25 per cent reduction in waste by 2020 and 75 per cent of waste recycled by 2020. The Government will also use its considerable buying power to stimulate the market for recycled products.

Delivery of the strategy will be overseen by a new Waste Strategy Board, made up of experts from across Whitehall, with two external members. The board will be supported by a Waste Stakeholder Group - to include representatives of the main stakeholder organisations - that will provide advice and act as a critical friend.

Notes to editors

1. The waste strategy and consultation paper on incentives for recycling by households and accompanying partial regulatory impact assessment can be accessed at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/strategy/ .

2. Contributions to the consultation on household incentives should be sent to:

E-mail: LAWFG@defra.gsi.gov.uk. E-mail responses should be clearly marked 'Incentives for Recycling by Households - Consultation Responses'. Fax: 020 7082 8764

Post: Local Authority Waste Funding and Governance Team, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Zone 6/F15, Ashdown House, 123 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6DE.

The closing date for contributions is Thursday 16 August 2007.

3. WRAP has today published a report, Managing Biowastes from Households in the UK: Applying Life-cycle Thinking in the Framework of Cost-benefit Analysis. The research suggests that where food waste is collected separately, the frequency of collection should be higher than for residual waste. Systems where food waste is collected weekly and residual waste fortnightly are likely to be convenient for residents, increase the capture of food waste and be the most cost-effective. The report, along with other relevant studies, can be accessed at http://www.wrap.org.uk/biowaste

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