Committee slams government’s waste strategy

18 Jan 10
The government’s waste strategy is ‘long on rhetoric’ but short on action, MPs said today
By Vivienne Russell

19 January 2010    

The government’s waste strategy is ‘long on rhetoric’ but short on action, MPs said today.

In a hard-hitting report, the environment, food and rural affairs select committee criticised the 2007 English Waste Strategy’s failure to address waste and recycling in the commercial and industrial sector.

Businesses generate 90% of England’s waste, yet the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs focuses its efforts on boosting recycling in the domestic arena, which accounts for only 10% of waste, the MPs note. Government knowledge of commercial and industrial recycling rates was found to be ‘patchy and outdated’.

Committee chair Michael Jack said: ‘Defra must give a clear lead on what it thinks the potential is for business to reduce its waste levels and increase its rates of recycling.

‘At the same time it must encourage companies to take a completely new view of waste and see it as a valuable source of raw material which must not be squandered in these difficult economic times.’

The report recommends that all retailers with a turnover greater than £50m be required to publish details of their waste prevention strategies and recycling performance. Food retailers and manufacturers should be made to report, at least annually, on how much food waste they produce.

Although the committee complimented householders for increasing their recycling rates, it called on Defra to set out a ‘more rational regime’ for charging for domestic waste collection. Local authorities should be supported to explain to residents the benefits of reducing their waste volumes and the costs involved in the collection and disposal of waste items, the report says.

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