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Councils urged to grasp the nettle

Last week’s leader about ‘sensational’ media reports on exporting waste prompted plastics recycler Jessica Baker from Chase Plastics to take issue with my compaint, writing it was “a sad state of affairs when it takes a national newspaper to lift the lid on this country’s recycling strategy of export poorly sorted plastic waste rather than reprocessing it here in the UK”.

I agree with Baker’s case that quality in the UK is key but the leader was headlined ‘Get the right message across’ and my thrust was that mainstream reporting tends to be sensationalist and discriminatory, rather than reflecting wider key issues.

What matters is that we all seek to achieve higher quality recyclate within an agreed integrated national strategy, and not one driven by Chinese policy over which we have no say and could change again tomorrow.

The theme continued at the other end of the global scale this week when English local authorities published their own recommendations on waste in a report from the Local Government Association (LGA).

Top of the list was a call for the Treasury to reinvest more of its landfill tax income in major public/private waste projects which, as we’ve seen with the withdrawal of PFI credits recently, are struggling to secure adequate investment from risk-averse financial institutions.

Other recommendations also called for Government action on this or that, prompting Defra resource minister Lord de Mauley to chide the LGA, saying he was “both surprised and disappointed” at the emphasis on Whitehall, arguing local government itself had a “massive, game changing, role”.

He went on: “So let me ask you today what you are each going to do to take the standard of every local authority and bring it up to and beyond the standard of the very best.”


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