Govt told to crack down on business waste

Waste reduction policies should concentrate on reducing the high levels of commercial waste instead of focusing solely on consumers.

The House of Lords Science Committee has called on Government should restructure local authority waste targets to allow them to address commercial and industrial waste.

In a report entitled Waste Reduction, the committee said ministers must also take steps to ensure more is being done at a national level to encourage all businesses to reduce waste and to introduce true individual producer responsibility.

The VAT system could also be amended to introduce variable VAT rates for products using more sustainable materials, and reduced VAT for servicing and repairs.

So-called ‘fast fashion’ also came under the committee’s scrutiny, with the Lords criticising the trend for using cheap materials that would only be worn for a short period of time.

Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan, chair of the Lords Science Sub-Committee on Waste Reduction, said: “It is time for the Government to move its priorities from household waste to the far greater problem of industrial and commercial waste.

“The target regime for local authorities must be changed so instead of a focus only on individuals’ waste, priority is given to ensuring businesses are doing their bit to reduce waste.”

The committee also slammed the decision to cut the budgets of organisations such as WRAP, which are intended to help businesses become more sustainable.

Lord O’Neill added: “This sends out entirely the wrong message at a time when reducing commercial waste both for economic and environmental reasons is more important than ever.”

The Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse (CRR) backed the report’s conclusions.

David Parker, head of remanufacturing, said: “The recommendations for action are pragmatic, feasible and timely. We have long called for IPR and a targeted tax regime.

“We hope the Government responds favourably to this report by promoting repair, reuse and remanufacture within both the public and private sectors.”

Cllr Paul Bettison, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Environment Board, called on Government to provide adequate funding for facilities for commercial recycling and said it was time businesses matched households’ performance on waste.

He added: “Introducing a ‘polluter pays’ principle would help local authorities manage rising costs and act as an incentive for businesses to produce less waste.”

Kate Martin

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie