Resources minister Rory Stewart has said he wants just “five or six” types of local authority household collections systems in order to boost England’s flatlining recycling rate.
In an interview with MRW editor Robin Latchem, conducted for the RWM exhibition this week, Stewart said the resources industry needed “clear rules, simple rules”.
He said: “I’d really like to see, for example, much more standardisation between councils in this country.
“There are maybe over 100 different ways in which recycling is done. If we could reduce that to just five or six it would make a huge difference for businesses.”
But he ruled out forcing councils to change their collection system, saying instead it would have to be on a voluntary basis.
“We do believe in localism and we do believe in choice rather than me with a 300mm screwdriver telling people what to do,” he added.
“Some [councils] have signed up to 15 or 20-year contracts. So it is going to need a lot of imagination. But I believe it can be done, because having a standardised collection system could actually be cheaper for these local authorities and better for the consumer.”
Stewart also insisted the Government was fully behind the EU circular economy philosophy, but that if targets were too stringent it would “alienate businesses”.
“We really believe in the circular economy [and] we want an ambitious circular economy package, but it’s got to be realistic and it’s got to be affordable,” he said.
Stewart, who was appointed resources minister in May, said he was “really proud” of the UK’s resources industry: “It is now one of the most exciting environmentally progressive industries in the country.”