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Defra admits struggle to engage on waste prevention

Defra is struggling to get businesses and stakeholders outside the industry to engage with its desire to drive up waste prevention, a senior official has conceded.

Defra’s new waste director Colin Church said producing a waste prevention programme - a legal requirement under EU law - was the department’s main priority but that engaging “stakeholders” had been challenging.

Church told delegates at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management’s annual conference in London: “Outside of the waste industry very few people think about [waste prevention]. It’s been quite a revelation to us how hard it is to engage some people in what we are talking about.

“We have a legal requirement under European law to produce a waste prevention programme by the end of next year.

“This is the major thing that we are trying to do over the next couple of years trying to set an agenda, set a way forward.”

Meanwhile, waste minister Lord Taylor used his address to the conference to throw his weight behind plans to improve public information about end destinations of recovered materials.

He said the Resource Association’s End Destinations of Recycling Charter was important to sustain recycling and householder engagement.

“I welcome the voluntary charter for local authorities of where recycling ends up developed by the Resource Association and the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee,” said Lord Taylor.

“People want to know that the effort they make to recycle is worth it. This type of information sustains recycling and householder engagement.”  

He also said:

  • An informal consultation on how to divert wood from landfill would be held at the end of July.   
  • The Government would closely watch London boroughs - which are using powers under private legislation to issue civil penalties to registered keepers of vehicles from which littering has occurred - to decide if they would like to see the practice more widely used.   

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