Government announces review of waste policy

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman pledged the new Government would undertake a full and thorough review of how the UK can cut its waste and maximise the business potential for the industries that manage it.

Speaking at waste trade show Futuresource on Tuesday, Ms Spelman told delegates that that the far-reaching review would look at everything from looking at ways to make household collections work for both the public and industry to the commercial drivers necessary to make treating and recycling waste in the UK an attractive prospect.

She acknowledged progress made under the previous administration, but said it had not been enough and, crucially, not progressed fast enough.

“We have been slowly moving in the right direction with recycling rates,” she said.

“The direction of travel is right – it’s the pace that’s the problem. We need to go faster and we need to go further.”

“There is an economic and environmental urgency to developing the right waste strategy.”

The review will include the effect of waste policies on local communities and individual households, and how local authorities can best work with people to make the best decisions.

It will also consider maximising the contribution of the waste and recycling industries to the UK economically and environmentally and promote producer responsibility.

Ms Spelman also spoke of a zero waste economy that would look at the full lifecycle of resources and ensure that waste materials were used to their full potential.

“We need a new approach to waste – one which works for the new economy,” said the Minister.

“We cannot keep putting recyclable and biodegradable material into landfill. It threatens the environment and wastes what are incredibly valuable natural resources.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to create the green jobs, green growth, and take our share of the green jobs of the future.”

Industry leaders at the event welcomed the announcement, saying a review of this kind was overview.

Chris Dow, managing director of East London-based firm, Closed Loop Recycling, called it a ‘breath of fresh air’.

“The current waste set up in the UK is too fragmented and lacking a solid direction and sound regulatory framework, which means that a valuable resource is, quite literally, going to waste,” he said.

“A joined-up approach to the whole waste supply loop is what is needed along with the introduction of a Carbon metric rather than weight based targets to drive resources into the most environmentally beneficial outcomes.”

“Consumers have done a fantastic job with their recycling habits and we know they are demanding greater availability of sustainable packaging.

“As an industry we’re now in a position to meet those demands, given the right encouragement from government.”

Sam Bond

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