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News analysis: Speculation rife as Government reviews its waste strategy

Radical changes to the structure of the UK recycling industry are being lobbied for across the board as the Government gets stuck into its biggest ever waste policy review.
Secretary of State for the Environment Margaret Beckett last week revealed that major changes could come from the five-year review of Waste Strategy 2000.
This has led to much debate throughout the sector as to what could and should be changed.
Councils and firms have been quick to tell the Government what needs to happen for the UK to achieve its recycling goals.
The Government launched Waste Strategy 2000 five years ago. That strategy is now undergoing its planned review, and Beckett has insisted the Government is open to ideas as it plots the way forward.
"I hope everyone will take the opportunity to look at the whole issue of waste-management so we can make progress," she told delegates at the Associate Parliament Sustainable Waste Group's Waste Strategy and New Technologies conference in London.
Beckett added: "I'm certain the question of whether targets should be based on weight is exactly the kind of issue we will look at."
Essex County Councillor Kay Twitchen OBE believes weight-based targets should be replaced by an innovative points system.
"Weight-based targets have led councils to turn to green waste, as they can collect massive tonnages of it and it is easy to compost," she explained.
"But people who used to leave their green waste in their garden or have home composters started leaving it out for collection.
"So we have increased the total waste stream and not taken as much waste from landfill as the figures suggest.
"It would be better if targets were more complex. There should be a points system whereby materials with higher environmental impact are worth more points when they are recycled.
"So, for example, a tonne of paper could be worth one point, and a tonne of plastics 10 points. Materials could be worth different amounts in different parts of the country, to take into account specific needs and circumstances.
"Weight-based targets are a blunt tool that have worked to get us into the recycling habit. Now we need something more sophisticated. We have to remember we are doing this for the environment."
Onyx Environmental Group chief executive Cyrille du Peloux agreed that weight-based targets were not ideal, but had more pressing issues.
"The topic of commercial and industrial waste must be taken into consideration, and the landscape for treating hazardous waste needs to be opened up," he insisted.
"The Government should also take this chance to make the planning approval system quicker and more reliable.
"Private Finance Initiatives should also be easier to understand - we need to know what contractual framework is most acceptable so we know what we need to do to get finance. Banks want predictability.
"This policy review should make clear that energy-from-waste is acceptable and that we need more facilities. There needs to be a public awareness campaign to dispel the myth of health problems."
Beckett said at the conference: "The role of new technologies is an important one. It is vital that we deliver real improvements in waste management so that we meet the challenges of the future.
"We are addressing concerns that the planning system will not allow for the kind of growth in infrastructure that we need."
ERM waste and pr

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