A senior industry figure has dismissed concerns about recycling rates, insisting the UK will meet its targets as new infrastructure is built.
Jean-Dominique Mallet, chief executive of Veolia Environmental Services UK, told MRW there would be “no issue” with the country reaching its 50% recycling target for household waste by 2020.
Just 42.5% of household waste in England was recycled in the 12 months to September 2011 and there are concerns that the country will struggle to go to the next level. Recent figures showed Scotland and Northern Ireland achieving similar rates to England, with only Wales up near 50%.
Mallet said: “People may think [recycling rates] are levelling off but we still have significant infrastructure under construction.
“I would not be too concerned with the recycling numbers at the moment, because I think the infrastructure which is needed will be the key element.”
Mallet, who chairs the Environmental Services Association and sits on the CBI’s infrastructure board, said the lack of any mention of waste in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) would not hold the industry back.
“I don’t care that it doesn’t mention waste; I’m pleased that it mentions sustainable development,” he said.
“Sustainable development is much more important than waste. Waste happens to be at the heart of sustainable development in terms of environmental protection, in terms of the economy – because a waste infrastructure is absolutely needed – and in terms of communities and employment.”
Mallet said while the planning system had not worked “as well as it should have” for the sector in the past, it was too early to tell if the new framework would have the “expected favourable consequences” when applied.
When it was published in March the NPPF deferred specific waste planning policy until the publication of the National Waste Management Plan for England – which may not be until the end of 2013.
At the time, ESA planning advisor Stephen Freeland warned of a “hiatus” in planning approvals because of the deferral.
Mallet said the NWMP should “address the requirement for the infrastructure in order to meet the directive targets set by the European Union, within a sustainable development agenda.”
He said the industry was asking “very little from the Government”: just certainty and clarity in regulation in order to give certainty to investors.