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Parliamentary inquiry into waste management launched

Defra’s watchdog committee has issued a call for evidence on waste management in England and the impact of the department’s withdrawal from some policy areas.

Measures such as landfill bans and increasing the country’s energy-from-waste (EfW) capacity will be investigated.

Anne McIntosh MP

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee, which is chaired by MP Anne McIntosh (left), is seeking evidence from stakeholders. Submissions can be sent here until 8 May 2014.

Oral evidence sessions will start in June, and a report will be submitted to the House of Commons by the end of the year.

The inquiry focuses on the recycling and treatment of municipal waste in England and aims at evaluating the consequences of Defra’s “stepping back” in some policy areas, said Efra.

McIntosh told MRW that under investigation will be a wide range of topics, including the ability of current legislation to ensure that England reaches the 2020 recycling target, anaerobic digestion and the effectiveness of the Government Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and Action Plan, energy from waste, and the feasibility of introducing landfill and incineration bans.

“We have asked [respondents] to look at existing recycling policies, whether they are achievable, whether they are too ambitious, in the context of EU policy,” she said.

The inquiry was described as “timely” by Steve Lee, chief executive at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management.

“We have, on a number of occasions, expressed concern that progress in improving resource management in England has stalled and we are already seeing worrying evidence that recycling is flatlining,” he said.

Barry Dennis, Director General at the Environmental Services Association, also welcomed the launch of the inquiry. “It will provide a good opportunity to take stock and to identify what more needs to be done to improve England’s recycling rate and make better progress towards a circular economy.”

McIntosh mentioned the possibility of an inquiry already in 2012 in an interview with MRW. She said the Committee decided to wait until Defra had run a consultation on waste and analysed the responses. A consultation on a waste management plan for England was carried out last year, and a Government response published in December 2013.

The Efra inquiry will be limited to municipal waste because of time constraints, she said, as the Committee wanted to produce a report by the end of year, ahead of the General Elections of 2015.

“This does not excluded we could run an inquiry on commercial waste management later on,” said added.

  • Article updated on 1 April to include comments from Anne McIntosh, Steve Lee and Barry Dennis.


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