Incoming resource minister Dan Rogerson’s first contact with the sector is to warn Defra does not have the capacity to take forward policy work in a number of areas.
The Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group then launches a major report calling for a boost to waste and resources infrastucture. Meanwhile, MRW learns many councils have been unable to issue scrap dealers with licences as new laws come into effect on 1 December.
Seventeen containers full of second-hand fridges and parts shipped by specialist recycler Environcom have been impounded by authorities in Ghana.
The country banned imports of used fridges and other electrical equipment in January following fears of toxic dumping by unscrupulous companies.
Environcom confirmed to MRW that 17 of its container loads destined for distributors in Ghana were being held at ports.
Significant reductions in Defra’s activities in the waste sector from April have been announced by the new resource minister Dan Rogerson.
Rogerson has written to industry stakeholders saying that budget cuts have forced ministers to review their priorities.
“Defra will not have the capacity to take forward new policy work in areas such as commercial and industrial waste and construction and demolition waste, as well as proactive energy from waste policy development.”
Industry experts say the projected failure to meet England’s 2020 recycling targets can be attributed to financial pressures on local government and a lack of incentives.
Last week, Defra announced that the household waste recycling rate increased by just 0.2% in the past year, the lowest annual increase this century. If maintained, it would fall short of the 50% figure set by the EU for the end of the decade.
The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) said this “disappointing trend” was a direct result of economic strains on councils.
A new standard for the anaerobic digestion (AD) industry focusing on design and construction is set to be introduced by the British Standards Institution (BSI), the UK’s national standards body.
The body said the standard was necessary in such a “rapidly expanding business sector in the UK” and concerns over the potential for safety incidents in plants.
BSI has set up a panel to consider proposals before consulting the industry. It estimates that a first draft of the standard will be published in October 2014.
A cross-Government strategy and a unified approach from waste industry are essential if the UK is to fully capitalise on both domestic and export markets, ministers have been told.
The call follows an inquiry by the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) which has concluded that poor quality waste supply restricts UK exports as well as potentially holding back investment in domestic infrastructure.
Waste infrastructure projects will need to prove themselves under market conditions and cannot rely on public sector investment, plans unveiled by the Government have indicated.
The National Infrastructure Plan 2013 sets out the UK’s infrastructure needs across a spectrum of industry sectors. A Major Infrastructure Tracking unit has been set up to analyse each sector and the pipeline of significant projects.
Although the plan outlines a strategic and “more credible overview” of future public and private infrastructure investments, it said decisions on individual waste and energy projects “will be determined by the market”.
Resource minister Dan Rogerson has responded to calls to reform the producer responsibility regime to “even out disparity” between export and domestic reprocessing of materials.
A recent report from the all-party Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group urged Defra and the Environment Agency create parity between Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) and Packaging Recovery Export Notes (PERNs).
The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) has said local authorities have struggled to issue licences as police begin a crackdown on dealers without “appropriate documentation”.
Ian Hetherington, director general of the BMRA, said: “Local authorities have been unable to process applications for scrap metal dealer licences in the limited timeframe set out by the government.
“Licences should be processed and issued by the end of January and we will liaise with the police and councils to ensure that the new legislation is robustly enforced.”
Resource minister Dan Rogerson has said England’s prevention strategy is “not target focused”.
The plan, ‘Prevention is better than cure: the role of waste prevention in moving to a more resource efficient economy’ was published a day before the deadline set by the EU.
Unlike Wales’ plan, which came out earlier this month, it does not set any specific prevention targets.
Rogerson told MRW: “This is not a target-focused programme. This is an approach that the Government has taken across the whole range of issues.”
The conversion of a North Yorkshire power station to biomass has left off a list of ‘provisionally affordable’ schemes published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The Eggborough Power Plant conversion had originally been included under projects that were marked down for funding under the Final Investment Decision Enabling for Renewables (FID) scheme, a mechanism to fund projects during a ‘hiatus’ of investment in low carbon generation before Electricity Market Reform (EMR) legislation comes into effect.
But the latest ‘provisionally affordable’ FID list does not include Eggborough.