Defra been urged to publish a “pragmatic” waste strategy following the referendum because of widespread expection that the European Commission’s circular economy (CE) package will no longer apply to the UK.
Viridor’s communications director Dan Cooke (above) said his company was working under the assumption that the proposals will not be transposed into UK law following the vote to leave the EU.
Speaking at an Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) hearing, former shadow Defra secretary Kerry McCarthy (below) said there was a “degree of uncertainty” about the package’s significance since the referendum.
She asked a panel of witnesses including Cooke: “Given the role the UK Government played in the CE negotiations, where they seemed to be against a target-driven approach very much favouring voluntary measures, do you think there is the political will now to implement something at a UK level […] now they are not bound into doing it at an EU level?”
Cooke replied: “The CE package was being negotiated but we have to assume that won’t be put in place in the UK. But there is an opportunity for the UK to show leadership.
“If [the UK Government] thought that was far from perfect in terms of targets, can we as the UK put in place something that is more pragmatic?”
The Government’s plans should have the “same level of ambition in terms of resource efficiency” as the CE proposals, he said, and encourage more recycling but possibly with lower targets if the package’s proposed 65% was considered unachievable.
He said these plans could be included in Defra’s upcoming 25-year strategy.
The EAC hearing was held as part of its Sustainibility and HM Treasury inquiry, with MPs focusing on the UK’s ability to meet recycling targets.
Veolia senior executive vice-president Estelle Brachlianoff (below) was questioned about the removal of private finance initiative support for energy-from-waste developments.
She said the fact that refuse-derived fuel was being exported rather than processed within the UK was an “opportunity missed”.