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Bradshaw praises UK for "tremendous achievement"

The UK's waste management industry has been praised for the "tremendous achievement" of reducing municipal waste arising by 3%.

Local Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw highlighted the work of local government in announcing the reduction at the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee Conference 2006.

He said at the event in Bournemouth: "This is only our second ever reduction [in municipal waste arisings]. We had one three years ago, but the figure went up again after. We've never had one this big and it looks like we may have turned around the tide of waste growth. Let's hope we keep up this trend for years to come."

Bradshaw also praised the country for hitting the 27% mark for household recycling in 2005-06. While he stated there had been a lot of pessimism about hitting the target of 25%, the fact that UK exceeded this level was highlighted as part of the reason why recycling has quadrupled since 1997.

He added: "Some of our local authorities are now at the level of some of the very best recyclers on continental Europe, although some poor performers are terrible. These are fast improving, but some haven't quite got it. It they don't get it soon, they are staring at all sorts of social and economic problems.

"But while overall we can pat ourselves on the back, it is a tough time to be in the industry. You [local authority representatives] are now the bin police or big brother."

And making reference to a recent story on his own recycling habits in a national newspaper, Bradshaw said: "Innocent martyrs are being created, guilty of nothing but putting out the wrong waste in the wrong bin on the wrong day. But today's headlines are tomorrow's recycling."

He did though suggest that it is difficult for dedicated recyclers to always get it right, saying that householders must be given clear and consistent advice on what to put in their recycling bins.

While he added that there is a deluge of negative media coverage on waste, this at least means that people are talking about the issue. "Before, it was out of sight, out of mind. What was once a Cinderella industry is now central to Government plans and some of the brightest minds are looking for jobs in the industry."

Reliance on landfill is also decreasing, with waste authorities in England meeting Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme limits. During 2005-06, there was a reduction of 1.5 million tonnes to 12.4 million tonnes.

This is seen as a great start towards targets for 2010, with Bradshaw also reiterating the need to change negative public perceptions on energy from waste.

He highlighted increased government spending to aid new waste technologies and infrastructure, with private finance initiatives also simplified.

 

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