§ Mr. Llew Smith
To ask the President of the Board of Trade what recent initiatives have been taken under the auspices of the Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme to provide educational and technology support materials to assist companies to reduce costs through waste reduction. 
§ Mr. Battle
The Environmental Technology Best Practice programme is continuing to encourage companies to reduce their costs and improve their competitiveness through waste reduction and improved environmental performance. The programme provides case studies of firms already engaged in waste reduction or other cost saving environmental good practice, benchmarking studies using environmental performance guides to enable companies to compare their performance, and guides to help companies adopt better environmental practices which reduce their costs.
In addition to numerous articles in trade and other media, since 1 May 1997, the programme has published 51 case studies, environmental performance or benchmarking studies, and guides to good practice; held 40 workshops, seminars and site visits for industry participants; responded to almost 25,000 calls to the Environmental Helpline (a freephone inquiry service); given counselling visits to more than 250 small enterprises; and added the engineering and ceramics sectors to its main themes on waste minimisation and cleaner technology and its focus on volatile organic compounds and the foundries, metal finishing, textiles, printing, paper and board, chemicals, glass, food and drink industry sectors.
This year, the programme will expand further its specific areas of interest to include the plastics sector and packaging.
The programme is also working with trade, local business support organisations and other intermediaries to disseminate waste minimisation and clean technology information to companies. In Wales, for example, the programme is working closely with the Welsh Business and Environment Campaign.