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Lord Henley cautions against use of "out-and-out" Government targets

Environment minister Lord Henley has cautioned against the use of “out-and-out” Government waste reduction targets because of their capacity to distort.

Speaking at the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group’s (APSRG) ‘Review of Waste Policies 2011’ event, Lord Henley responded to a question about the lack of targets in the waste review by telling attendees that UK waste goals came from the EU.

He added: “I wouldn’t want to put any out and out targets in here, what we want to do is set the direction, so the road we’re going in and how we want to do things, and make things easier for people in how they collect things, or how they’re disposed of.

“I don’t think it’s a question of having targets set by the Government as it were, I’m always deeply suspicious of targets, because they can distort, but I think it is knowing in which direction we’re going, and what we have already achieved. I pay tribute to the previous Government that we have got up to 40% recycling for household waste, we obviously want to get a lot further because we want to get to what we describe as a ‘zero-waste society’, but that will take time.”

Lord Henley also told attendees that he accepted there were “very real tensions between localism and the need to get infrastructure right”.

Chartered Institution of Wastes Management chief executive Steve Lee, who also spoke at the event said: “It may well be that the evolution of our industry has reached that point where it’s not a question of how far we’re going to be pushed reluctantly up the performance hill by Government, it’s for us to strive for better things beyond mere compliance with European Directives. It’s your job, you’re not going to be led there by legislation and policy.”

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