The Resource Association has said it is “disappointed” in the Government’s response to a report on recycling and waste from MPs.
Following on from the publication of the Waste Management in England report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, the Government has responded to the recommendations made by MPs.
In the report, MPs expressed concern that the Government has “stepped back” from waste policy and called on it to appoint a Minister with clear responsibility to co-ordinate across all Government department in order to lead on waste policy.
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Defra responded: “Waste and resource management policy continues to be a key priority for Government and Defra remain committed to deliver a more sustainable economy where waste is treated as a resource.
“Government is undertaking a number activities to deliver this, for example we are considering measures to improve resource efficiency, including looking at alternative business models, promoting producer responsibility measures, working with the sector to maximise the capture of quality recyclate, tackling food waste and taking forward a programme of work following the publication of the Waste Prevention Programme for England.
“We also continue to work with the Environment Agency, in the performance of its regulatory duties on waste activities and in tackling waste crime and poor compliance, and with WRAP to support businesses, civil society organisations, local authorities and households become more efficient in the way that they manage and use resources.”
It also said that Resources Minister Dan Rogerson (pictured) has the responsibility for these issues.
On a recommendation to move towards banning of recyclable waste in landfill by 2025 from MPs, Defra said: “The Government believes that the most effective way to reduce waste is to focus at the top of the waste hierarchy with waste prevention and that landfill should be the last resort for most wastes. We believe there are more efficient options than restrictions in this area and evidence suggests that restrictions would likely impose additional costs on businesses, particularly SMEs.
“The [European] Commission has recently announced the withdrawal of their proposal to amend EU waste legislation and for it to be replaced by a new, more ambitious proposal by end 2015 to promote circular economy.
“It is only once EU negotiations on any new proposal have substantively concluded that we would have sufficient clarity to consider what further action, including on support and infrastructure, will be necessary to meet future EU measures. We look forward to working with the Commission, the European Parliament and other Member States to ensure a balanced package of proposals which has ambition, is evidence based and feasible for all Member States.”
It also rejected calls from the Committee for the introduction of a 70% recycling target with or without European targets as it does not “support stringent new targets unless there are clear economic and environmental benefits that exceed the cost.”
Defra also rejected a recommendation for an annual, stautory Resgister of End Destination of Recyclates.
Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson said: “We welcomed the EFRA Committee’s excellent report and its call for statutory reporting of end destination of recyclate and are naturally disappointed that this is not being taken up by Defra, but we are pleased to see progress in this area with specific support for our End Destination of Recycling Charter and the proposal to incorporate end destination reporting into a single question in WasteDataFlow. We continue to encourage councils and their contractors to see the benefits of greater transparency of information on end destination, as part of the necessary improvement in public confidence in the recycling process that is part of what is needed to give flatlining recycling rates a vital boost.
“Beyond this, we remain disappointed and unsurprised at the lack of vision and ambition for English waste policy that is reflected in the Government’s response. To that end, we have little to add to our reaction to the Government’s response to the excellent Environmental Audit Committee report on the circular economy, duly recycled below.
“We are an industry hungry for leadership from Government, but for now building our own cross-industry consensus on policy priorities must be paramount as we prepare for the General Election and also the possibility of fresh policy proposals from the EU Commission.”