Resource minister Therese Coffey has said the UK could move away from weight-based recycling targets following Brexit.
Speaking at an election hustings panel convened by Greener UK, a group lobbying to maintain strong environmental policies after the UK leaves the EU, Coffey said the Government was in the middle of negotiations over waste and recycling policy.
She said: “I think one of my biggest surprises when I came into Government is how much of our recycling is the weight of grass clippings.
“There’s a real opportunity to think about recycling and reuse.”
Coffey indicated that, after Brexit, the UK could have a “new direction” but that it would not happen immediately.
“But we can start to think properly about green growth policy that maximises resource efficiency,” she added. “Those are the kind of things that I think are quite exciting.”
She added that the long-delayed 25-year Defra plan was still being worked on.
Under the EU circular economy package – the final details of which are currently being bashed out by the European Parliament, Commission and Council of Europe – weight-based recycling targets could rise to 70%.
Use of measurements other than weight has been backed by a number of industry figures in recent years, including Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson and Suez recycling and recovery UK chief executive David Palmer-Jones.
The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management is a member of Greener UK. The hustings event was chaired by TV personality and Woodland Trust president Clive Anderson.
Other panellists included shadow climate change minister Barry Gardiner and Baroness Parminter, who is Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the environment.