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.
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.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on the achievement by local authorities of their recycling plans.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which local authorities have not submitted their waste recycling proposals to his Department for approval.
The following local authorities have yet to submit recycling plans to the Department:
- Amber Valley
- Great Yarmouth
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list each grant made by his Department for recycling projects.
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|
|Kingston upon Thames||48|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||600|
|West Yorkshire Waste Management||1,137|
|Hereford and Worcester||11|
|Ellesmere Port and Neston||10|
|Hinckley and Bosworth||20|
|Lanbaugh on Tees||64|
|Newark and Sherwood||50|
|Nuneaton and Bedworth||37|
|Rochester upon Medway||145|
|Shrewsbury and Atcham||50|
|Stockton on Tees||96·5|
|Vale of White Horse||20|