Wales launches new draft waste strategy

The National Assembly for Wales has launched a consultation on a more sustainable waste strategy, recognising that the country is near the bottom of the European league in waste management.

The aim of the draft document is to set out proposals for a “challenging but realistic programme of change for the next 20 years” to move Wales from “an over reliance on landfill to a more sustainable approach”. This is to be done by preventing waste wherever possible, maximising the use of unavoidable waste as an economic resource and tackling litter and illegal waste management.

Every year, around 11 million tonnes of controlled waste is produced by Welsh industry, of which around four million tonnes is landfilled. Of the 1.5 million tonnes of municipal waste produced by Wales’ three million inhabitants only around 5% is recycled, with 95% landfilled. Municipal waste has also increased about 6% each year from 1996 to 1999, which the Assembly says is largely attributable to increased collection of commercial waste.

The strategy outlines three key policies for making Wales’ approach to waste more sustainable: a waste elimination led strategy, encouraging segregation of waste at source and the development of recycling and composting markets.

On elimination, the document says that the top priority in Wales should be action to not only curb future growth in waste but also to reduce the amount produced, particularly hazardous waste, ensuring that waste production is decoupled from economic growth. This will require close co-operation with the UK Government and the other devolved administrations.

On segregating waste, the Assembly aims to work closely with local authorities in order to reduce contamination, extract maximum value, highlight to householders the value of waste discarded, facilitate their handling and to provide the public with information and advice so that “more sophisticated waste minimisation messages can be applied”.

The Assembly also aims to work with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and others to develop appropriate recycling and compost markets in Wales in order to:

  • make recycling/composting economically self-sustaining within local authority budgets for collecting and disposing of materials;
  • create new jobs in Wales;
  • reduce the environmental damage caused by transporting recyclable materials; and
  • progress towards the implementation of many of the recommendations made within a report by the Institute of Welsh Affairs on the development of recycling markets.

The draft strategy was compiled with the input of members on the Wales Waste Forum, including local authorities, business and industry, the voluntary sector and specialist, professional and academic organisations. Comments on the consultation document can be sent to [email protected] by 5 October 2001.

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