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Caroline Spelman announces review of Government waste policy

Caroline Spelman – Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced a review of Government waste policy so the UK can go “faster and further” in-line with the ‘new economy’.

In a conference session at the 2010 Futuresource event, Spelman said: “We’re a nation that has inherited the biggest peacetime  deficit ever, so continuing with the current approaches at the current pace is something we can’t afford either environmentally or economically. We need a new approach to waste, one which works with the economy. We need an approach which recognises the cost to business, to households, to local and central government and the environmental market.”

The review will look at every aspect of waste policy in order to maximise the contribution to waste prevention. Spelman said Defra would work with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) to send a much greater volume of biodegradable waste for anaerobic digestion, while also working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The review will focus on how we can work towards a ‘zero waste economy’. Spelman said she wants to create a society where nothing is wasted and where waste is seen as a valuable resource.

Creating a new kind of public consciousness about waste “where consumers make deliberate decisions about preventing waste in the first place”, was another important point highlighted in the speech. Spelman also called on those in the product supply, waste management chain and in the Government to improve communication with consumers.

 She added: “We need to get better at explaining the link between that collection van…and the final destination of its contents because knowing that your recycling choices decide whether that destination is an expensive hole in the ground or a reincarnation as green energy, a new product or as a compost is a powerful incentive to making the right choice.”

New approaches to dealing with commercial waste and promoting ‘responsibility deals’ and reducing the amount of waste generated b y production and retail will form a key part of the review.

The Secretary of State said: “Business inevitably produces more waste than households. For too long Government attention has been has focused on domestic waste rather than giving business the encouragement it needs.” The Government will work with retailers and businesses to drive down food waste and unnecessary packaging.

Spelman added that central Government will recognise that local government needs the freedom to interpret information and advice that comes from central Government.

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