Defra’s newly published departmental plan has been roundly condemned by Steve Lee, chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM).
He welcomed a commitment to tackle waste crime, but said the waste and resources policy agenda included resource efficiency and security, renewable energy, green economic growth and climate change mitigation – which barely merit a mention in the Single Departmental Plan: 2015 to 2020.
He said it was alarming that there was no reference to the European Commission’s circular economy (CE) proposals.
“The stark picture here is of a department that is utterly depleted in terms of resources, funding and vision,” Lee said.
In an official CIWM response to the plan, which was published on 19 February, Lee said that significant short-term pressures on the sector as evidenced by stalling recycling rates, UK reprocessing capacity and weak recyclate markets have to be addressed by Government engagement.
“In the medium term, we are moving into the critical negotiation phase on the EU’s CE package,” he said. “Whether or not we remain in the EU, this package of measures will impact on the UK and it is alarming to see no mention of it in Defra’s plan.”
He said the industry needed more evidence of the Government’s engagement on this agenda and reassurance that Defra was adequately representing the sector’s views and interests at the negotiating table.
“In the long term, the UK has, along with nearly 200 other countries, just signed up to the Paris climate change agreement. However, the words ‘climate change’ appear only once, with reference to polar bears.
“Clearly the Government’s response to climate change will engage many departments but, as the lead department for industry sectors that have a recognised role to play in tackling climate change, Defra’s plan is inadequate.
“This plan won’t deliver – we can only hope that the 25-year environment plan promised later this year by Defra does better.”
MRW has asked Defra for a response.