Opinion is divided in the waste management industry over the Government’s announcement that it is “not minded” to introduce landfill bans before the publication of the waste review.
The announcement came following a consultation over possible landfill bands for particular waste streams, including plastics, wood, green waste and glass, which indicated mixed stakeholder support for the bans, with only 42 of 138 respondents supporting a ban outright.
LGA Environment Board chairman Cllr Gary Porter said: “Cutting the amount of waste going to landfill is good for the environment and good for council taxpayers, but banning certain types of waste going to landfill would require a huge investment. At a time when council budgets are under unprecedented pressure it is encouraging that the Government has listened to councils and decided not to go ahead with a ban on landfilling certain types of waste.”
The deferral was also welcomed by Viridor external affairs manager Dan Cooke who described the decision as “common-sense”, he said: “Landfill bans at this time would have been unnecessary and highly impractical. The landfill tax escalator and landfill diversion targets, together with increased awareness about environmental issues and climate change are driving higher levels of recycling and landfill diversion without the need for material-specific bans. It is more important to improve the planning system to allow the next generation of recycling and waste treatment facilities to be constructed and operational in a timely manner.”
Wood Recyclers Association secretary Peter Butt noted that “there were as many people opposing landfill bans as there were supporting them. It is a shame particularly for our industry because we need to recover as much wood as possible from landfill. It is hard for the new Government because they have entered at such a tough time and in fairness to them it’s probably not at the top of their list at the moment.”
However, the decision has also attracted strong criticism, including from Association for Organics Recycling chairman Charlie Trousdell, who questioned how serious the Government is about climate change. “The Government seems confused; is it trying to save money or trying to save the planet? It’s a key question. We need to enforce good quality waste management facilities that will cost money but will cost less than sending waste to landfill. We need a clear message from the Government.”
Friends of the Earth senior waste campaigner Michael Warhurst also criticised the decision, commenting: “If the Coalition is serious about delivering on its promise of being the greenest Government ever, it must ban the land-filling and incineration of recyclable material, which will help cut climate changing emissions and create new jobs.”
Textile Recycling Association national liaison officer Alan Wheeler was also disappointed, but felt the decision was a party political one, he said: “I’m not surprised it has been shelved because it was a consultation that was started under the previous Government.”