HC Deb 27 October 2003 vol 412 cc31-2WS
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the steps being taken to increase recycling rates from(a) household waste, (b) business and industrial waste and (c) direct mail. [131904]

Mr. Morley

The Government have set targets to increase recycling and composting of household waste in England to 17 per cent. by 2003–04 and 25 per cent. by 2005–06. To underpin these national targets, we have required all local authorities to double their recycling, compared with 1999–2000, by 2003–04, and to treble their recycling by 2005–06. The Government have provided significant funding to enable local authorities to meet these targets.

In addition, Local Public Service Agreements provide a focus for local and central Government to encourage commitment to specific improvements over and above that which would normally be expected. To date, 83 waste related targets have been signed, including 41 targets which aim specifically to increase recycling performance above the statutory performance standard. As part of a Local PSA, the Government offer at the outset, a pump-priming grant, unsupported credit approvals and potential relaxations in statutory and administrative requirements. Typically, financial support has been used to improve enforcement and publicity; to develop civic amenity sites; and to initiate or expand kerb-side collection schemes.

The Household Waste Recycling Bill awaits Royal Assent and will become law next month. The Act will provide that where English waste collection authorities have a duty to collect waste they shall ensure, except in some circumstances, that by the end of 2010, they collect at least two recyclates separate from the remainder of the waste. The circumstances in which they would not have to comply would be where the cost of doing so was unreasonably high or where comparable alternative arrangements are available.

The Bill also now provides that the Secretary of State must report to Parliament on progress towards meeting this requirement, and local authority performance on meeting their recycling and composting standards, by the end of October 2004.

The Bill will apply to Wales if the Welsh Assembly feel it appropriate.

In "Waste Strategy 2000", the Government and the National Assembly for Wales set a target to reduce the amount of industrial and commercial waste sent to landfil in 2005 to 85 per cent. of that sent in 1998—reducing the amount from 42 million tonnes to 36 million tonnes. To reaffirm the target, the Government confirmed in the 2003 Budget that landfill tax will increase by £3 per tonne in 2005–06 and by at least £3 per year thereafter on the way to a medium to long-term rate of £35 per tonne. In addition, Envirowise is the main Government programme for providing advice on improving resource efficiency to businesses in industry and commerce increasing sustainable economic development.

The Government and the Direct Marketing Association signed a new agreement in July 2003 to increase the amount of recycled material used in the direct mail and promotions industry. Currently, 13 per cent. of direct mail is recycled, however, the agreement will raise recycling levels to 30 per cent. by the end of 2005, 55 per cent. by the end of 2009 and 70 per cent. by the end of 2013.