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Conservative support for waste carrot and stick approach, in green report

Environmental taxation has been cemented as a political battle ground with last weeks release of a Conservative report Blueprint for a Green Economy. It proposed transparent taxation so people can see how much waste services cost as well as offering tax discounts for good recycling behaviour. Plans for a National Resource Trust (NRT) were also put forward, which would have an advisory role in waste management. The report also called for better producer responsibility policies and said that the NRT would extend producer responsibility legislation. Under proposals the NRT would also produce a Sustainable Procurement Standard for public bodies to ensure supplies had maximum recycled content. The discipline of the market place was also cited as a way to encourage waste reduction. The report recommended that the council tax bills should show separately the amount charged for waste services. People will then know how much they are paying. To increase recycling rates and avoid confusion clarity of information was suggested to make recycling second nature. This could be achieved with more joined up thinking between local authorities, guided by the NRT claimed the report. While discussing the best way to achieve zero waste to landfill the report criticised weight based systems of collection for not reducing biodegradable waste going to landfill. It called for a phased ban on the landfilling of recyclable and compostable materials. Increases in landfill tax to £80 per tonne by 2015 were planned, with an increase of £5 per year thereafter. And there were recommendations for planning regimes to be adjusted to favour small flexible and selective schemes rather than large, inflexible and mass-burn schemes. Incineration taxes were also recommended to ensure that as landfill tax increases, waste is not diverted to the next cheapest option. CBI director of business environment Michael Roberts said: The report's stated principle of working with the market by ensuring the price of carbon reflects its environmental harm is one that business supports. But not every idea is a runner, and it is not clear how a carrot and stick approach that remains tax revenue neutral will hang together as a whole. Those drafting the next Tory manifesto will have to pick and choose carefully to avoid serious economic harm.

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