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Welsh Assembly unveils new waste strategy

A zero waste strategy has been launched by the Welsh Assembly Government containing a 70% recycling and composting target.

Towards Zero Waste is an update of the Welsh Assembly’s 2002 Wise About Waste strategy, which provides a policy framework to deliver an ultimate target of becoming a zero waste society by 2050.

Launched today, the strategy sets out a framework of policies aimed at meeting the above waste reduction targets, these will include:

  • The wider uptake of separate food waste collection schemes for all households in Wales
  • An anaerobic digestion plant building programme with funding of £26 million
  • The provision of smaller bins to encourage recycling
  • A policy ‘preference’ for kerbside sorting of waste streams by collection contractors.

Welsh Environment Minister Jane Davidson said: “Reducing the amount of waste we produce is at the heart of this new strategy. My vision is to see all of us spending less of our hard earned money on unwanted food and goods and as a result producing less waste. Reducing the amount of waste we produce will then result in having to spend less money on waste management.”

Speaking ahead of the strategy’s launch, Davidson explained that Towards Zero Waste would not include the provision of recycling incentive schemes for Wales.

Davidson said: “It is not for us [to be] about charging people for throwing their rubbish away. It’s not about rewarding people for volumes of recycling. Our agenda is about helping people produce less waste.The European hierarchy starts with reduction, reuse and then recycling so, in a sense if you start with recycling, you’ve already missed two of the major elements.”

The launch of Towards Zero Waste has been welcomed by Cylch, the Welsh community recycling network.

Cylch chief executive Mal Williams described the launch as a ‘day for celebration’. He said: “As a founder member of the Zero Waste International Alliance I am absolutely delighted that we can now talk about and plan for zero waste without being ridiculed – it has taken a long time to reach the point where the whole of the UK wants a zero waste society and I know the part that the Welsh leadership played in getting us here.”

Campaign For Real Recycling lead member Chris White also welcomed the news. He said: “This strategy is top quality from a reprocessor’s point of view. As a result, it certainly leads the way in the UK and I will send it to Caroline Spelman, Jane Davidson’s opposite number at Westminster as a benchmark, to try and save English tax payers a lot of money and heartache as Defra reviews the English strategy.”

The new waste strategy has been designed to work in tandem with a series of sector plans, which will provide more specific waste reduction strategies for individual waste intensive sectors.

Today’s launch marked the opening of the consultation phase for the first of these sector plans, which will focus on reducing municipal waste, with sector plans for retail, construction waste and infrastructure to follow later in the year.

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