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Tories raise ambitions for a zero waste society

To work towards a zero waste society the UK needs to have a higher ambition on how it deals with its waste, according to Shadow Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Nick Herbert.

Speaking at the REalliance CICs first annual conference in London (1 December), Herbert outlined the Conservative Partys waste vision most of which he announced in July (see MRW story). REalliance is a partnership of four social enterprise networks which include: the Community Recycling Network, Furniture Reuse Network, Community Composting Network, and the London Community Resource Network.

Herbert said: I want to go further and faster by driving our recycling rates and maximising resource efficiency. The current position is that in 10 years time, 75 per cent of household waste can either be recycled or used for energy.

He also said a quarter of the UKs waste will be going to landfill in 10 years time and we need to drive waste away from landfill faster.

Herbert explained how the UK lagged behind its counterpart nations in Europe who have invested faster in green technologies.

He said: We must not be wasting waste. We need to be serious about reducing it.

Herbert reiterated that the Conservatives Partys vision on waste will involve incentivising people to recycle rather than penalising them. He also said that reducing waste in the first place had to be part of the resource efficiency agenda because it is sometimes overlooked because there is a lot of attention on recycling and re-use.

He said a Conservative Government would look at voluntary agreements with producers that focus on waste similar to the Courtauld Commitment [voluntary packaging agreement between the Waste & Resources Action Programme and retailers].

Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Martin Horwood also outlined his partys waste policies.

He said zero waste had to be a long-term goal and a Lib Dem Government would clarify the anti-waste hierarchy which includes waste prevention, re-use, recycling and composting and good energy from waste. He said good EfW would discourage incinerators producing toxic fly ash and not crow out recycling.

Horwood criticised the Government for making savage cuts to WRAP, the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme, Envirowise and BREW. He said that there should have been public outrage that there budgets were cut so drastically.

Other Lib Dem waste proposals include:

  • Support NISP-style programmes to cut millions of tonnes of waste;
  • European Union action to design out waste;
  • Courtauld Plus: stronger incentives for re-usable bags and containers; and
  • Active support for re-use third sector organisations.

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