The national media showed considerable interest in ministers’ litter strategy.
The document included a reassertion that residents should not be charged for their DIY waste. But it was not as blunt as an accompanying press release, which indicated that measures in the strategy included “stopping councils from charging householders for disposal of DIY household waste at civic amenity sites”.
This had an immediate effect on West Sussex County Council, which suspended its charges pending a review. At the heart of the uncertainty was conflicting interpretations of the law between Defra and the communities department.
The impact of China’s crackdown on poor quality (‘illegal’) imports of materials for recycling through the National Sword initiative was beginning to be felt, with reports of thousands of containers stuck in Hong
Kong because Chinese port authorities were refusing to accept them. UK merchants reported lower demand for paper and plastic, and shipping lines were cutting charges.
The Recycling Association, through its in– augural ‘Quality First’ campaign, reported that every waste load into China was being checked.
The latest report on the sector from the ESA oozed frustration. It cited inflexibility from planners, narrow appreciation of sustainability issues and out-of-date perceptions of the waste industry as obstacles to a smooth transition to a CE.
It was announced this month that the Green Investment Bank would be sold to the Australian bank Macquarie Group in a £2.3bn deal. The Government rejected criticism that this was a privatisation too far, saying it had safeguarded the bank’s environmental credentials. The process of handing over this valuable property took several months.