Watchdog MPs have warned ministers that they must play a greater role to inject impetus into England’s stalling recycling rates.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee, which is chaired by MP Anne McIntosh (left), launched an investigation into the waste management sector in March this year and has delivered its findings after collecting evidence from across the industry.
One of the report’s key recommendations is that the Government steps in to provide more leadership to the waste industry to help drive up recycling rates to meet the 2020 target.
Efra said in its report: “We are concerned that England will not play its role in meeting the European requirement for the United Kingdom to recycle at least 50% of its household waste by 2020 without significant Government intervention.”
McIntosh criticised Defra’s announcement a year ago that it would, in effect, withdraw from greater regulation of the waste sector unless there was a market failure.
She said: “Defra ‘stepped back’ at a time when we need both a more ambitious approach to waste management and stronger Government leadership to drive up static recycling rates in England and make better use of energy recovery options such as local heating for homes. Ministers must now show that waste policy remains an important priority.”
Although Efra has called for Government intervention through Defra on a national level, the report recommends that local authorities should remain responsible for resolving specific local challenges and barriers.
Other recommendations include:
- The appointment of a minister to co-operate waste policy across all Government departments
- Increased funding for WRAP and Keep Britain Tidy
- A move towards banning recyclable waste from landfill by 2025
- The publication of a Register of End Destination of Recyclates to improve public perceptions of recycling
The economist for the Environmental Services Association, Jacob Hayler said there was a growing consensus that England could struggle to meet its household recycling targets.
“The Government must listen to the committee before it’s too late and support local authorities in delivering the services we need to drive up recycling rates across the country.
“At the same time, we shouldn’t overlook the need to invest in more domestic energy recovery jobs and infrastructure. Far too much waste still goes either to landfill or overseas. We should be exploiting this valuable energy resource to light and heat our homes and businesses.”
“We all have a responsibility to use our resources more carefully and reduce waste. The Government continues to support this by providing a robust legal framework to help enforcement agencies and industry take action, securing an additional £5m to tackle waste crime and helping consumers save £1.5 billion worth of food since 2007.
“We will respond to the report in due course.”
- More on the report and reaction to it here, and in the next issue of MRW.