HC Deb 13 March 2001 vol 364 cc824-5 3.46 pm
Mr. Paul Marsden (Shrewsbury and Atcham)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision for the doorstep collection of recyclable waste from all residential properties in England and Wales; to set 20-year targets for increasing levels of recycling in accordance with European Union requirements; and for connected purposes.

The Bill has cross-party support and is also supported by various environmental organisations, including Friends of the Earth. I thank Martyn and Claire from Friends of the Earth for their support in preparing the Bill. Recycling makes sense and is popular among constituents. People taking bottles, cans and newspapers to the supermarket recycling banks are a familiar Sunday sight. I have taken my children there on many occasions.

The environmental benefits of recycling are clear. It reduces the need for landfill sites, and we should remember that to meet EU targets we must reduce waste to landfill sites by 25 per cent. by 2010, and by 65 per cent. by 2020. We must reduce the need for incinerators and their potential for giving off cancer-inducing dioxins. We need to protect the earth's resources, which continue to be plundered, and we must reduce the potential for pollution.

There are clear cost benefits. Recycling aluminium cans alone could save £21 million a year, and in the process cut greenhouse gas emissions by 95 per cent., compared with the use of raw aluminium. Recycling can create jobs. Wastewatch, the organisation that prepared a report on the subject, found that a 30 per cent. recycling target could create 45,000 new jobs.

The benefits are evident. The question is how much recycling is already undertaken. Nationally, 9 per cent. of household waste is recycled. In Shrewsbury, we are above average, with 11 per cent. household waste recycling covering 87 per cent. of that rural borough. My congratulations go to Shrewsbury and Atcham borough council on what it has achieved, but I know that the council wants to achieve far more.

In their document entitled "Waste Strategy 2000", the Government set out a series of targets. Within two years, 17 per cent. of household waste should be recycled. By 2010, the target is 25 per cent., and by 2020, it is 33 per cent. In the next two years, we need to double the amount of household rubbish being recycled, but after that, the increases tail off. That is not good enough. The targets are too low.

Let us consider the position further afield. In Switzerland, 52 per cent. of rubbish is recycled, and in Holland the figure is 48 per cent. Even the United States, which is renowned for its greedy culture, recycles 22 per cent. In the Scandinavian countries, Austria and Germany, the recycling of half of household rubbish was achieved more than five years ago. The potential is massive, but we need a new partnership between businesses, councils, residents and the Government. In "Recycler Review" this month, it is reported that Daventry district council recycles up to 70 per cent., Wealden council 53 per cent. and Sutton council 44 per cent. I believe that 60 per cent. of household rubbish could be recycled, and that that is achievable in the short term. It is not rocket science; it is simply a case of being serious about recycling.

My Bill would make the process far more efficient by ensuring doorstep collection for all households. We already collect rubbish door to door, so we need only to build on the best available practices and ask people to separate waste ready for collection. Once we have created a recycling network, we can include batteries and electrical goods in addition to newspapers, tin cans, food cans in general, glass bottles and plastics. The cost, about which everybody invariably asks, is £10 per household, or an estimated £240 million a year. Where would that money come from? Last year alone, the landfill tax brought in £462 million, so all I ask is that the Treasury give half that money directly to recycling schemes so that we can extend them nationwide.

The Government—especially my right hon. Friends the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for the Environment—are to be congratulated on their dedication to pushing a green agenda. On 24 October last year, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in a speech to the Green Alliance: I want to see every local authority offering doorstep recycling to take advantage of these new markets. If we harness my right hon. Friend's new determination to use the latest technology, establish partnerships between the public and private sectors and enlist public support, we can, at the dawn of the 21st century, begin the task of protecting the environment with far more recycling. Once and for all for future generations, we can then begin to save the environment as we keep promising to do.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Paul Marsden, Mr. David Chaytor, Mr. Lembit Öpik, Sir Sydney Chapman, Valerie Davey, Mr. Don Foster, Dr. Doug Naysmith, Mr. Torn Brake, Ms Joan Walley and Mr. Simon Thomas.