A "sensible timetable will need to be put in place to allow the waste industry to build infrastructure to tackle commercial and industrial waste in the light of the Governments proposals to change the UKs definition of municipal waste, according to an industry expert.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently reviewing the UKs landfill diversion targets after discussions with the European Commission to broaden the UKs definition of municipal waste to include commercial and industrial waste for the purposes of reporting against the targets in the Landfill Directive (see MRW story).
AEA Technology waste management technology practise manger Adam Read said that the waste industry will need infrastructure in place to take on C&I waste. He said: I agree with it [changes to definition of municipal waste] in principle but it needs to be implemented with a sensible timetable and incentives need to put in place. They [Government] need to give industry a five- to seven-year transition to put the infrastructure in place to make it work, rather than try to make it happen within two to three years.
Read said that changing the way municipal waste is counted means that the baseline upon which the landfill diversion targets are set to be revised. He also said that the current procurement system focuses on private finance incentive waste contracts which have been made with a view to tackle municipal waste and not C&I waste and that this system may be transformed in light of the redefinition of municipal waste.
In relation to landfill diversion targets, Read said: With likely changes in the way that municipal waste is classified in the UK, bringing it in line with the European Union, our performance to date will not look so strong and our likelihood of meeting future targets will be reduced. As such we need to consider a number of significant policy options to improve our chances of meeting these targets, and the one getting all the attention at present is the introduction of a landfill ban.