Friday, 13 April 2012

[Reposted from July 2011] The Minister Speaks, and Holiday Reading

Link to June 2011 video, on the web site of the
'Chartered Institution of Wastes Management'
(bet people leave out that extra "s" quite often)

Government Review of Waste Policy in England 2011

Holiday Reading

 Ministerial Foreword

"Waste affects us all. We all create waste, we care if our domestic refuse service does not work well, and we notice when flytipping or litter affects our local environment. The breadth and impact of waste and resource use policies is very broad. The way we behave at home, at work or as consumers has a real impact. We need, as a society, to value products and care about how they are made and used, and how we deal with them when we no longer need or want them. If not, we will not only increase costs at a time when we are facing real challenges in reducing the deficit, but we will also have a negative impact on our environment.

"This Government recognises that waste policies matter to people. It is a front-line local service and, for many, their primary interaction with their local council. But it is more than that. Waste is a major contributor to methane emissions and, if not managed properly, can harm our environment and damage communities. Waste can also be a source of renewable energy, and a source of valuable materials to enable a more sustainable use of our material resources. That is why early in this Parliament we committed to a wide ranging review of waste policies.

"We are committed to working towards a zero waste economy as part of the transition to a green economy and our commitment to be the greenest government ever. We have looked at options across the field of waste – recognising that much of the legal framework we have to work within comes from Europe. We have engaged widely with interested parties on this review and have been really impressed by the positive engagement we have had.

"The waste and resource management industry contributes a significant amount to the UK economy and employs over 100,000 people. It is an industry in transition and one whose continuing economic growth we want to support. For businesses of all shapes and sizes there are major savings for the bottom line from using resources more efficiently.

"I am pleased to publish this document which sets out the results of our Review. I believe that there is no silver bullet to solve waste, rather that there are a number of changes to policies and practices across the community, a number of small levers which we can pull in order to deliver long-term change. Together we can go further and faster to move waste out of landfill towards greater recycling, re-use and, in particular, greater waste prevention.

"Government cannot act alone, and must work in partnership with local government, industry, civil society, consumers and communities. Waste is not only an issue for national policies, but also for local communities. It is about making it easy for people and businesses to do the right thing, whether at home, or at work; rewarding good behaviours; allowing those who want to do more to do so as easily as possible, and ensuring residents receive the regular, frequent service they should expect as taxpayers. It is also an area where some of the more innovative civil society groups – charity, community and voluntary groups – can make a real difference. To move ahead on waste and resources at a time when we need to address the fiscal deficit sets us all a real challenge.

"This document contains actions and commitments, not only of government but of other key actors, which together set a clear direction towards a zero waste economy. These actions will form the implementation plan for waste policies in this Waste Review and for the rest of this Parliament."

Caroline Spelman

 Principal Commitments

As part of a more sustainable approach to the use of materials, delivering environmental benefits and supporting economic growth, we will:
  • Prioritise efforts to manage waste in line with the waste hierarchy and reduce the carbon impact of waste;
  • Develop a range of measures to encourage waste prevention and reuse, supporting greater resource efficiency;
  • Develop voluntary approaches to cutting waste, increase recycling, and improve the overall quality of recyclate material, working closely with business sectors and the waste and material resources industry;
  • Consult on the case for higher packaging recovery targets for some key materials;
  • Support energy from waste where appropriate, and for waste which cannot be recycled;
  • Work to overcome the barriers to increasing the energy from waste which Anaerobic Digestion provides, as set out in the new AD strategy;
  • Consult on restricting wood waste from landfill and review the case for restrictions on sending other materials to landfill.

 Executive Summary (extracts) 

Waste Prevention, Re-use and Recycling
We need to take an integrated approach to waste prevention, re-use and recycling – absolute prevention of waste is in many areas unrealistic, but we can prioritise prevention while seeking to re-use and recycle as much as possible of the waste which does arise.

On recycling, we must continue to increase the percentage of waste collected from both households and businesses which is recycled, at the very least meeting the revised waste framework directive target to recycle 50% of waste from households by 2020. This will include overcoming some challenges ahead, particularly in urban areas and within a tight funding settlement for local authorities, and to ensure that smaller businesses have access to cost effective recycling services.
Energy Recovery [including new-style incineration]
Government supports efficient energy recovery from residual waste which can deliver environmental benefits, reduce carbon impacts and provide economic opportunities. Our aim is to get the most energy out of genuinely residual waste, not to get the most waste into energy recovery.

Anaerobic digestion offers a positive solution to food waste, and the Government is publishing separately a anaerobic digestion strategy. We will work to remove barriers to other energy from waste technologies by ensuring information is available and readily understood. We will publish a guide to energy from waste to help all involved make decisions best suited to their specific requirements. While remaining technology neutral, we will look to identify and communicate the full range of recovery technologies available and their relative merits – right fuel, right place and right time.

The Government will also provide the necessary framework to address market failures and ensure the correct blend of incentives are in place to support the development of recovery infrastructure as a renewable energy source.
Landfill should be the last resort for most waste, [we say that incineration of domestic waste should be a 'laster' resort] and particularly for biodegradable waste. [that's fine.]

The landfill tax – with increases maintained towards a floor of £80 per tonne in 2014/15 – will remain the key driver to divert waste from landfill and remains necessary to ensure we meet key EU targets in 2013 and 2020. As noted, we are removing the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme as we no longer consider this an effective tool to ensure delivery of the EU landfill targets.

However, even with existing measures in place and new actions which will drive waste up the hierarchy, it is likely that some waste will end up in landfill that could be put to better use and which may warrant the introduction of additional, legislative tools, such as landfill bans or restrictions, to ultimately achieve our aim.
Infrastructure and Planning
The Government continues to support local authorities in the provision of necessary waste infrastructure. We believe local communities should benefit from hosting waste infrastructure and be involved from an early stage in planning for infrastructure.

We will support this by providing advice and support for local authorities on science and technology, drawing together and publishing data on likely waste arisings and treatment capacity in future years, and supporting efforts by local authorities through effective contract management to generate further efficiencies in waste collection, reprocessing and treatment. We will also seek to reduce commercial barriers to the effective financing of infrastructure. [Unless you are the NLWA, in which case we will screw you up. See: On the way up, and On the way down.]

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