At the Agency’s annual general meeting on 12 September, Chief Executive Barbara Young stated that although there is a financial incentive for businesses to minimise their waste, householders are cocooned from the real costs of what they throw away. “No matter how much is produced, households are charged the same,” she said. “If Britain fails to control its run-away wastage, even at today’s bargain-basement waste management prices, it will cost an extra £1 billion per year just to cope with the additional domestic dustbin load by 2020.” By this time, household waste may have doubled, she said, adding that there should be greater incentives for the reduction of domestic waste. Britons already produce one and a half times the amount of waste of our European neighbours, she said.

“We’re really looking for greater public debate on waste,” an Environment Agency spokesperson told edie. All the options need to be looked at in the face of an increasingly serious waste problem which, if it continues unchecked, will result in more landfills and incinerators “which no one wants in their backyard”, said the spokesperson.

Currently, the cost of disposal of household waste is around £50 per household per year, compared to water and sewage bills of around £233 for unmetered households, and £197 for metered homes.

“Each one of us is a waste producer, yet most people appear unaware about what happens to their waste, unless a landfill or incinerator is planned for their neighbourhood,” said Baroness Young. “There is public concern about most waste disposal routes, including landfill, incineration and composting, yet domestic waste continues to rise at 3% per annum.” Progress in more sustainable waste management, such as waste reduction, and recycling is slow, she said. “Over the next year, I want to see greater public awareness and involvement in the debate about waste management,” she said, adding that the Agency will continue to expand the amount of information that is publicly available on the organisation’s website.

The Chief Executive also called for the early introduction of Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) legislation for municipal waste incinerators and hazardous waste treatment plants, which are currently planned for introduction in 2005.

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