Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Session 2002-03
21 May 2003 REPORT PUBLISHED INTO THE FUTURE OF WASTE MANAGEMENT


Session 2002-03
21 May 2003 REPORT PUBLISHED INTO THE FUTURE OF WASTE MANAGEMENT

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will publish a report about the future of waste management at 11.00 am on Thursday 22 May.  The report

  • says that the Government has, to date, been "too timid" in its waste management policy;

  • expresses concern that both the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency lack the necessary funds and expertise to make real progress in respect of waste management; and

  • argues that "despite warm words from Defra ministers, the Department does not seem to have a real sense of where it wants to go".

The Committee strongly advocates moving up the 'waste hierarchy', away from landfill and incineration towards recycling, re-use and waste minimisation.  To encourage such a move at present "the Government is relying on just one economic measure-the landfill tax-and is using it timidly".  The tax should be raised much more rapidly to a rate of £35 per tonne if it is to have a significant impact.  The report also argues that a wider range of economic instruments, such as graduated disposal taxes and variable household charging, should be used.  In addition the report makes a number of other detailed recommendations.

On publication of the Report, the Chairman of the Committee, David Curry MP, will say:

"The United Kingdom produces enough waste to fill the Albert Hall every hour, and we have to change the way we deal with it.  The easy option of dumping virtually everything into landfill is closing down.  Reducing the volume of waste and diverting waste from landfill requires a determined response from Government - and that has so far been lacking.

"Addressing the issue is a matter of urgency.  Quite apart from the environmental damage and economic wastage of the current approach to waste management the Government is obliged by European legislation to change tack.  Tough choices are needed.  In particular we argue that the landfill tax should be uprated quickly to £35 per tonne - only at that level will it begin to have a serious effect.  Other economic instruments should also be employed.  And the Government needs to make serious efforts to address the issue of waste minimisation."


NOTES FOR EDITORS

The Report follows an inquiry conducted between January and April 2003.  The terms of reference of the inquiry can be found in our Press Notice of 28 November 2002.

During the inquiry, the Committee took evidence from a range of interested bodies, including the waste disposal industry, local authorities, and Michael Meacher MP, the Environment Minister.  In addition the Committee visited waste disposal and recycling facilities in south and east London, Leicestershire and Rutland, as well as in Denmark.

The full report will be available on our website from around 3.30 pm on 22 May.