Defra has published its updated waste management plan, with some industry figures concerned the department is only doing the bare minimum to comply with EU waste regulations.
The Waste Management Plan for England is required under EU law. It does not introduce any new measures but brings together existing policies under a single umbrella.
Defra also published its response to a consultation on the plan. Nearly a third of respondents – which included local authorities and the private sector – said they thought it would not lead to the UK meeting its requirements under Article 28 of the revised EU Waste Framework Directive.
One respondent said: “…wish to record our disappointment at what we consider a missed opportunity for Defra to indicate a level of ambition for waste and resources policy over and above the minimum compliance approach.”
But the majority – 39% - said they thought it would meet the requirements and 33% were unsure.
The recently published Waste Prevention Programme was also criticised by many industry figures for its lack of ambition.
Resource minister Dan Rogerson said the management plan demonstrated “impressive progress” since the publication of the 2007 waste strategy.
He also pointed to increases in household recycling, despite the fact recent figures have shown England is currently on course to miss its 2020 target as recycling rates flat-line.
Rogerson’s comments underlie the Government’s ‘hands off’ approach to waste policy, following a letter he sent to the industry saying Defra’s waste role would be cut back.
He added: “The Government will set the conditions that will allow businesses, local authorities, the waste sector, Government and every one of us as consumers and householders to make the changes necessary.”
Defra said it had taken some criticisms on board. “In particular, we have added to the plan a link to our assessment of future infrastructure needs,” it added.
“The assessment confirms that we have a high degree of confidence that we will achieve by 2020 the Landfill Directive target on diverting biodegradable waste from landfill.”
The Government’s infrastructure plan was criticised by some in the waste and recycling industry for failing to underpin future developments.
Some respondents to the consultation complained that the plan could not be considered without taking guidance on Technically, Environmentally and Economically Practicable (TEEP) guidance for commingling and the MRF code of practice, neither of which have yet been published.
Speaking at the House of Lords, former resources minister Lord de Mauley reconfirmed the MRF code of practice would be introduced “early next year”.