UK Government appoints recycling guru to solve markets problem
The Executive Director of Waste Watch has been hired by the Government to spend three months identifying ways to build solid markets in recyclates.
With publication of the final version of A Way with Waste – the waste strategy for England and Wales – expected before the end of the month (see related story), the Government has acknowledged it needs help with recycling. Ray Georgeson, of Waste Watch, will spend the next three months advising Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) officials.
“The Government is painfully aware of the recycling problem,” Ray Georgeson told edie. “I believe there is a genuine commitment to improve the situation.” Georgeson hopes that more money and possibly a new agency, devoted to recycling, may be on the cards. “There is some recognition that a level of intervention is possible without too much market distortion – if we’re going to meet Landfill Directive targets.”
Georgeson’s appointment has been greeted with warmth from Biffa – one of the UK’s largest waste management companies and a supporter of recycling over incineration (see related story). “Ray’s got extensive and wide-ranging experience,” Peter Jones, Biffa’s director of business development, told edie. Jones hopes that any expansion or extra support for recycling be directed toward “large-scale schemes driven by regional development agencies, combined with emphasis on producer responsibility schemes”. What Jones wouldn’t like to see is money being channelled to the hundreds of local authority recycling collection programmes.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) also welcomes Georgeson’s appointment and believes he has some ideas that the Department of Environment would do well to adopt. That said, Mike Childs, the organisation’s waste campaigner, doesn’t think that the Government has a real commitment to recycling. “I think that the Department of Environment does want to substantially increase recycling in this country, but I don’t think the final waste strategy will set statutory targets for recycling,” Childs told edie.
“I know that [the Department of the Environment] is arguing with the Treasury, trying to get money flowing to local authority recycling schemes, but I don’t think they’re going to get much more,” says Childs. Childs thinks that recycling just won’t be given priority because it is competing for cash with education and the NHS.
Georgeson is slightly more optimistic, but concedes that any real progress in recycling will require huge efforts over the coming years. “It can’t be done on a piecemeal basis,” he says.
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