The Government “does not intend” to set recycling targets for local authorities, environment minister Richard Benyon has claimed.
In response to a question from Birmingham Erdington MP Jack Dromey regarding mechanisms for aiding local authorities in setting recycling targets, Benyon said: “The revised waste framework directive sets the UK a target of recycling 50% of waste from households by 2020. While this sets an overall ambition for the UK, the Government do not intend to pass this target on to local authorities on an individual basis.”
Benyon added that the forthcoming waste review will provide a “framework of support we want to give local authorities to manage waste more sustainably” but confirmed that “it is a matter for local authorities to decide what aspirations on recycling are appropriate for their area depending on their wider waste management goals and individual circumstances”.
The announcement appears at odds with a clause in the Localism Bill, which will enable Defra to pass on fines to local authorities if European targets are not met on a national level.
Speaking at the time, Aaron & Partners LLP associate Claire Petricca-Riding said: “Most local authorities’ waste contracts are usually dealt with on a PFI basis. This would lead to a confusing picture as to who was actually to blame for the local authority not meeting its target – the local authority or the PFI partner?
“Would it be fair to fine the local authority when the blame lay with the company dealing with the PFI?”
Friends of the Earth resource use campaigner Julian Kirby criticised the move.
He said: “EU law says the UK must recycle 50% by 2020, but unless England sets a national goal to ensure the average recycling rate rises even as some councils lag, it looks very likely the ‘greenest Government ever’ is planning to freeload off the greater ambition of its neighbours - every other UK country is aiming for 60% by then.
“Caroline Spelman launched the waste review saying she wants to see English recycling go ‘much faster and go much further’. Given that, a year on, not one new council has expressed an interest in the RecycleBank scheme, you have to wonder how she plans on delivering on that ambition.”