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English waste strategy needed, say disposal authorities

Disposal authorities have called for the introduction of a waste strategy for England, including measures such as making recycling compulsory.

The Joint Waste Disposal Authorities (JWDAs) said in a position paper that the strategy would be needed to deliver the EU’s circular economy (CE) package, which the authorities broadly welcome.

Such a plan should focus on developing markets for secondary raw materials which are seen as being “fundamental” to increasing recycling rates. A tax on virgin raw materials and tax relief on recycled content are proposed to boost demand for secondary materials.

The paper suggests a “more detailed but practical approach” to waste targets, taking into account market potential, geographical areas and public engagement. The plan should also consider the “limited recycling potential” of some materials, it says.

The JWDAs comprise the disposal authorities of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and four areas of London, and deal with around 16% of England’s council-collected waste.

Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority treasurer and deputy clerk John Bland (pictured) said that setting a waste strategy for England was ”a matter that Government needs to address”.

“We feel that in doing so, the excellent starts on policy made by [Wales and Scotland] are a good starting point but that our aspirations for England should be higher and more targeted.

“We agree with the Government that the CE proposals embody the right concept, though some refinement about the role of targets is needed.”

He said waste reduction should take priority and an expectation that packaging is produced “with reuse and recycling in mind”.

The paper was written before the UK’s vote to leave the EU but Bland said the need for an English strategy is now “even greater”.

“Without the EU legislation, much of our environmental legislative framework will fall away,” he said.

Wales and Scotland both include direct recycling targets for their local authorities, with financial support for struggling councils and fines for those that repeatedly miss targets.

Bland said similar measures for English councils as part of a waste strategy has not been discussed by the JWDAs.

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