A Conservative Government will move away from seeing regulation as the principal option for dealing with waste and implement more voluntary agreements, according to Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Nick Herbert.
Herbert was speaking at a think thank Policy Exchange event (20 July) and launched the Conservative Partys thinking on waste.
Herbert said that a regulatory approach will not address the issues of waste minimisation in helping to reduce the amount of waste produced by a person, a business or society.
He added: We will not regulate waste out of existence. Instead, voluntary agreements should play a greater role. They have many advantages over legislation, including faster implementation and increased flexibility to changes; better design, since they are usually drawn up by individuals with a detailed understanding of the relevant sector, and most importantly they engage, rather than impose, upon market leaders.
Herbert said that in the UK and Europe examples of voluntary agreements that focus on waste are in place. He used the example of the Netherlands, Germany and Austria that have voluntary agreements for materials such as paper and tyres.
Herbert said the Conservatives will look at six key themes to deliver its waste vision. He said, firstly, the Conservatives should aim for a fiscal framework which encourages the behaviours on waste which we want and discourages those we dont. Herbert said that the landfill tax is here to stay and it will continue to rise, regardless of the public finances.
Secondly, Herbert said that we need a proper assessment of the different methods of utilising waste which reveals their impact upon the environment.
He added that recycling cannot simply be an article of faith in which the public have no idea whether they are being green or not.
Thirdly, the Conservatives will address how better to drive commercial and industrial waste away from landfill. He said the Conservatives will address whether incorporating the municipal waste stream with C&I waste will be the right approach or if a market-based solution would be more effective.
Fourthly, the Conservatives will promote the agenda of localism and do not believe that Government should usurp local decision making on planning and compel local authorities to have waste infrastructure projects.
It will encompass more voluntary enhanced cooperation between local authorities to manage their waste, as in Hampshire.
The Conservatives also advocate the need to incentivise the right behaviour in individuals, businesses and local authorities. It said that it will look at communities sharing the benefits of energy from waste. Herbert said that some companies are already proposing discounts on electricity produced in this way.
Herbert concluded that the UK could not go being one of the dirty countries of Europe. He said that we need a Government that has a real determination to do better and not simply to carry on with the failed status quo.
We should be ashamed that we still lag behind our peer group nations when it comes to going green.