MPs call for clearer landfill guidelines

A clearer definition of exactly what constitutes "municipal waste" under the Landfill Directive has been demanded from the government by British MPs.

Uncertainty within the industry and a lack of clear information about changes to waste regulations could prevent targets for reducing landfill from being reached, according to a report on waste policy by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Parliamentary Committee (EFRA).

The all-party group of MPs gathered evidence that around 700,000 tonnes of hazardous waste still remain unaccounted for in the UK, following the recent changes to regulations that ended the co-disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

This could be tackled in the short-term through more effective regulation enforcement, according to the group, and stronger enforcement of waste policy would be essential if increased penalties were not to have the perverse effect of encouraging more illegal disposal.

Extra funding is also needed to efficiently handle the increased demands being placed on the Environment Agency (EA), the report stated, in particular to combat fly tipping and effectively police the proper disposal of hazardous waste.

“The committee remains unconvinced that Defra’s ambitious targets for reducing the amount of waste going to landfill will be met and suggest that Defra sets out a clear strategy, complete with proper statistics on waste disposal, for how they will be achieved,” the report stated.

“Local government needs more funding and the Government needs to establish a clearer regulatory environment to ensure adequate capital investment in additional waste treatment capacity.”

The MPs also called on the Government for an increase in landfill tax up to £35 per tonne in order to increase the incentive for change and generate additional funds to tackle waste problems, as well as variable charging for household waste.

“This report confirms that Britain continues to face an ever more complex and growing challenge about how to deal with both household and industrial waste, but, compared to climate change, this subject is in the low profile column,” committee spokesman Michael Jack explained.

“Given the limits now imposed on landfill, the Government must step forward and give real leadership in determining whether processes like incineration really can play a major role in dealing with Britian’s ever-mounting volume of waste.”

By Jane Kettle

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