Benn: consign waste to the dustbin of history

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has said it is time to scrap not just waste itself but the very concept and should see it for what it is - a resource to be utilised.

Speaking at the launch of Beyond Carbon,a report from green business lobby group the Aldersgate Group looking at resource efficiency, Mr Benn said: “It seems to me that this is one of the fundamental questions we have to confront.

“We’ve reached a point in human development where the thing we call waste needs to be seen for what it really is – it’s a resource [and] we ought to describe it as such.”

He said burying leftovers in a hole in the ground and hoping we can forget about it was no longer an acceptable option and that incentives to divert waste from landfill were a start, but that over time materials that could be recycled, composted or burned to generate waste would have to be completely banned from landfill.

“People will look back with utter incredulity that this is what we used to do,” he said.

“For the past 150 years, with all the benefit that economic development has brought us, we’ve been running an unwinnable race against the planet. We know that the time has come to stop treating the gifts that the Earth gives us as if they were inifinite and start using them in a very different way.

“And if as part of that we can confine the word waste to the bin of history where it belongs then we will have made progress.”

Mr Benn’s full speech can be seen below

Footage of other speakers at the launch including Aldersgate chairman John Harman, eco-economist Prof Paul Ekins and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Environment Group Peter Ainsworth MP, can be seen here.

Sam Bond

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