Waste Review starts to take shape
Social media may have its fair share of critics, but there's no denying it has its uses. Earlier today I put questions to Defra's deputy director of waste strategy Diana Linskey on the Government's forthcoming Waste Review and I didn't even have to leave my desk - I just tuned into my first webinar.
Linskey used the webinar to give some indication of where the Waste Review is heading, much of which was already familiar to me, but there were a few nuggets of information - or should I say clarification - that surfaced during her presentation. The first of those was that the review will be delivered very much within the context of the Government's big society and localism agenda.
That basically means that local councils and communities will be encouraged to work together and engage more on matters of waste. And while there's a possibility that new recycling targets might be introduced, the Government doesn't wish to appear too dictatorial in this respect. However the prospect of tonnages making way for carbon seems unlikely; Linskey confirmed carbon-based targets were still "some way off" being put in place. At least in England.
Previous waste policy has homed in on household waste diversion tactics and done a relatively good job of it. Business waste is the next big challenge, especially arisings from smaller firms - and here we may see the end of LATS as it's one of the biggest barriers currently preventing councils collecting waste from SMEs.
There has been talk of dovetailing the two waste streams as they are similar in composition and I asked Linskey if a combined recycling target for both household and commercial waste might be waiting in the wings. She wouldn't confirm either way, but did say that ministers were "very keen to join the two". However I suspect the review will take more of a softly softly approach when it comes to business via voluntary agreements rather than hardcore regulation.
Waste prevention might be the jack-in-box surprise of this review. Politicians have neatly cottoned onto the fact that once waste is generated it becomes a cost - and hence a burden - to the economy. This will change in the future, especially as raw materials become scarcer and energy security becomes more important, but for now, not creating waste in the first place is seen by many as a no-brainer.
Lastly, the review itself is just the start of the journey. It will map out preliminary findings and there may well be a further review published downstream. What will appear alongside the review are updated waste scenarios and a new waste management plan for England.
When I asked whether all of this documentation would eventually replace the Waste Strategy for England 2007, Linskey came pretty close in giving a definite answer: "I don't think that we will see a waste strategy in the same format as 2007, but a range of more flexible, and digital, documents". You heard it here first.maxine perella