HC Deb 27 July 1993 vol 229 cc890-5W
Mr. Bennett

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps the Government have taken in addressing the option of waste reduction in meeting their recycling targets.

Mr. Yeo

The Government have set a target for recycling 25 per cent. of household waste by the end of the decade. This target relates to materials recycling and composting. However, it is clearly better to avoid waste in the first place, where that is a practicable option, and the Government employ a variety of measures to encourage waste minimisation. In addition to providing for the minimisation of the discharge of pollutant substances, the Environmental Protection Act establishes stringent standards for waste disposal. When fully implemented, these standards will increase the costs of disposal and provide an additional incentive to minimise waste. The Government also run programmes to raise awareness in companies of the benefits of waste minimisation; to demonstrate best practice; and to provide advice and information on cleaner technology for industry. A number of major companies have now set themselves waste reduction targets.

Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on the achievement by local authorities of their recycling plans.

Mr. Yeo

Most local authorities are starting to implement recycling plans which extend over a number of years and we expect to approve those plans which have been submitted more recently by the end of the summer. It would be premature to attempt to assess how much progress has been made in implementation at this early stage.

Mr. Bennett

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what effect the import into the United Kingdom of German waste seeking processing outlets is having on package waste disposal in the United Kingdom; and what plans he has to protect schemes in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Yeo

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given today by my right hon. Friend to my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, North-East (Mr. Butler).

Mr. Butler

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how the Government intend to take forward their proposals for increasing the recycling of packaging and other goods and to deal with the threat posed by schemes in other countries.

Mr. Gummer

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Technology and I have today invited the major organisations involved in the packaging chain to draw up a plan by which industry will take responsibility for ensuring that the majority of used packaging is not simply thrown away but returned to beneficial use. We expect this plan to make a significant contribution to meeting the Government's target of recycling 25 per cent. of household waste by the end of the decade.

Recycling minimises the use which we as individuals make of the earth's limited resources and there is already a great commitment to it in many parts of the community. Voluntary groups, charitable bodies, dedicated individuals, business and local authorities have all done much to establish a basic framework of schemes. But today many of these schemes face a crisis and, if we are to safeguard this potential for growth, we need to adopt comprehensive measures which involve all the relevant business sectors.

I believe that many of those in the packaging chain—retailers, fillers, and manufacturers of packaging materials and packaging accept that they should share responsibility for what happens to packaging once it has served its original purpose. My predecessors and colleagues at the Department of Trade and Industry have been discussing with the industry for the past two years how that responsibility might be put into practice.

We have made useful progress in our discussions. But our long-term goals are being put in danger by the damage being caused to Britain's recycling efforts by measures elsewhere in Europe. Many of our European partners are introducing recycling schemes for packaging, but in some of those schemes there is an alarming imbalance between what is collected and the ability to reprocess it. We need to ensure that we get this balance right and that we sustain the recycling infrastructure which we have painstakingly built up so far.

We have therefore decided that urgent action is necessary and that it is time to spell out what the Government expect of industry. That is why I will be meeting senior representatives of retailers, fillers of packaging and manufacturers of packaging and packaging materials over the next few weeks.

We will invite them to produce a plan which meets the following objectives: producers—retailers, fillers and manufacturers of packaging and packaging materials—must take a share of responsibility for what happens to packaging once it has served its original purpose, while minimising the packaging deemed essential; producers would show that they accept that responsibility by delivering targets for the amount of used packaging which they recover. We accept that recovery targets above 75 per cent. are unlikely to be practicable by the end of the decade. So we are asking them to commit themselves to ensuring that between 50 and 75 per cent. of all packaging waste—the precise level to be agreed with Government—is recovered by the year 2000; producers would bear any extra cost of setting up systems to meet the recovery targets; we will emphasise to producers the importance of their taking immediate action to ensure that a recycling infrastructure—collectors and processors—continues to be available to them, so that they can meet their recovery targets.

We welcome the initiative already taken by the Institute of Grocery Distribution to finance pilot recycling collection schemes. We would support the idea that recognition should be given to those companies who have contributed to such schemes, when more comprehensive arrangements are established.

We are inviting leading figures in the industry to report back by the end of October on the action which they have taken to help collection and processing operations to continue, especially for waste paper and board and plastics. And we are asking them to present us with an effective plan for meeting the objectives which I have outlined, before Christmas 1993. We will make clear to industry that it should ensure that its plans are compatible with United Kingdom and EC competition law.

If the industries concerned cannot satisfy us by Christmas that they are committed to achieving the objectives, or if they decide that legislative backing is necessary, we will need to move towards a legislative approach to mandating producer responsibility.

We believe that one of the benefits of introducing a scheme of producer responsibility will be that we are better able to demonstrate, in our discussions on a European Community packaging directive, that it is possible to reduce the environmental impact of packaging significantly without placing unreasonable burdens on business. We also wish to ensure that the targets contained in the directive are realistic.

My colleagues and I will also continue our discussions with industries dealing with other waste streams on how they could shoulder responsibility for the wastes which their activities generate. In particular, I will be inviting the newspaper publishers to discuss these issues with me.

The initiative which we are announcing today will form an important part of our recycling strategy. It will allow the public, who would like to see less packaging and who do not want throw away materials which could be used again, to recycle much more than they can at present. It will be another important step in moving towards a society whose daily 'habits preserve the world for future generations.

Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which local authorities have not submitted their waste recycling proposals to his Department for approval.

Mr. Yeo

The following local authorities have yet to submit recycling plans to the Department:

  • Amber Valley
  • Bolsover
  • Brent
  • Erewash
  • Great Yarmouth
  • Sandwell
  • Walsall
  • Wolverhampton

We have received an informal draft from Blackburn, but still await the formal submission of their plan.

Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list each grant made by his Department for recycling projects.

Mr. Yeo

The following grants have been made available for recycling projects under the environmental action fund in 1993–94:

Waste Watch, National £196,987
Community Recycling Network, National £30,000
Eureka Museum for Children, Halifax £21,950
Action Resource Centre, Nottinghamshire £13,000
Avon Friends of the Earth £11,200
Cash from Trash, Wakefield £31,939
Bristol Recycling Consortium £20,000
Wastestream Systems Ltd., London £18,780
Wyecycle, Wye £15,000

The DTI also makes funds available to businesses for innovative recycling projects under the environmental technology innovation scheme—ETIS—EUROENVIRON scheme, and environmental management options scheme—DEMOS.

The following local authorities have also been allocated supplementary credit approvals to support capital expenditure on waste recycling for 1993–94:

Authority Allocation
London Boroughs
Barnet 200
Bromley 13.5
Croydon 155
Ealing 1.175
Enfield 50
Hackney 170
Haringey 20
Hillingdon 5
Kingston upon Thames 48
Lambeth 112.25
Merton 97
Newham 100
Redbridge 168
Richmond 70
Southwark 30
Sutton 365
Tower Hamlets 53
Waltham Forest 150
Wandsworth 20
Metropolitan Authorities
Barnsley 135
Bolton 75
Bury 30
Calderdale 30
Doncaster 16
Dudley 100
Gateshead 35.5
Kirklees 35
Knowsley 110
Leeds 1,410
Liverpool 270
Newcastle upon Tyne 600
Oldham 98
Rochdale 36
Rotherham 19
St. Helens 7.7
Sandwell 820
South Tyneside 7
Stockport 55.575
Wakefield 340
West Yorkshire Waste Management 1,137
Wirral 24
Wolverhampton 53
County Councils
Cambridgeshire 240
Cornwall 40
Cheshire 20
Cumbria 105
Devon 240
Durham 50
Hampshire 517
Hereford and Worcester 11
Hertfordshire 20
Leicestershire 106
Lincolnshire 175
Northumberland 7
North Yorkshire 76.5
Nottinghamshire 175
Oxfordshire 150
Somerset 78.5
Suffolk 48
Wiltshire 20
District Councils
Adur 40
Allerdale 75
Alnwick 33
Amber Valley 20
Bassetlaw 8
Bath 20.4
Beverley 20
Blaby 40
Bournemouth 29
Brighton 60

Authority Allocation
Bristol 248.75
Broxbourne 105
Browtowe 77
Burnley 45
Carlisle 20
Chelmsford 20
Cheltenham 60
Cherwell 15
Chester 200
Chesterfield 28
Chiltern 50
Copeland 48
Craven 50
Darlington 6
Derby 70
Easington 7.8
East Dorset 15
East Hertfordshire 42
Eden 13
Ellesmere Port and Neston 10
Gedling 13
Great Grimsby 70
Guildford 60
Harborough 30
Harlow 17
Hartlepool 150
Hastings 50
Havant 17.5
Hinckley and Bosworth 20
Hull 175
Hyndburn 30
Kerrier 125
Lancaster 20
Lanbaugh on Tees 64
Leicester 90
Melton 40
Mid Bedfordshire 35
Mid Suffolk 60.5
Middlesborough 23
Milton Keynes 1,450
Newark and Sherwood 50
North Dorset 25
North Hertfordshire 12
Norwich 20
Nottingham 71.8
Nuneaton and Bedworth 37
Oswestry 65
Oxford 205
Pendle 15
Peterborough 12.35
Plymouth 160
Poole 37.5
Portsmouth 10
Preston 10
Reading 15
Ribble Valley 7
Rochester upon Medway 145
Rother 40
Rushmoor 70
Scarborough 25
Selby 30
Shrewsbury and Atcham 50
South Derbyshire 50
South Herefordshire 20
South Lakeland 28.75
South Norfolk 50
South Northamptonshire 75
South Somerset 100
St. Albans 70
St. Edmundsbury 26.5
Stockton on Tees 96.5
Surrey Heath 42
Tendring 4
Test Valley 91.5
Tewkesbury 30
Vale of White Horse 20
Watford 30

Authority Allocation
Waverley 30
Wealdon 100
Welwyn Hatfield 40
West Devon 75
West Dorset 20
West Wiltshire 116
Winchester 26
Woking 33.7
Wokingham 40
Woodspring 10
Wrekin 90
Wychavon 15
Wycombe 20

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