Skip to main content

Recycling

Volume 229: debated on Tuesday 27 July 1993

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

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
  • Bolsover
  • Brent
  • Erewash
  • Great Yarmouth
  • Sandwell
  • Walsall
  • Wolverhampton
We have received an informal draft from Blackburn, but still await the formal submission of their plan.

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
Wyecycle, Wye£15,000
The DTI also makes funds available to businesses for innovative recycling projects under the environmental technology innovation scheme—ETIS—EUROENVIRON scheme, and environmental management options scheme—DEMOS.The following local authorities have also been allocated supplementary credit approvals to support capital expenditure on waste recycling for 1993–94:

Authority

Allocation

£'000

London Boroughs

Barnet200
Bromley13·5
Croydon155
Ealing1·175
Enfield50
Hackney170
Haringey20
Hillingdon5
Kingston upon Thames48
Lambeth112·25
Merton97
Newham100
Redbridge168
Richmond70
Southwark30
Sutton365
Tower Hamlets53
Waltham Forest150
Wandsworth20

Metropolitan Authorities

Barnsley135
Bolton75
Bury30
Calderdale30
Doncaster16
Dudley100
Gateshead35·5
Kirklees35
Knowsley110
Leeds1,410
Liverpool270
Newcastle upon Tyne600
Oldham98
Rochdale36
Rotherham19
St. Helens7·7
Sandwell820
South Tyneside7
Stockport55·575
Wakefield340
West Yorkshire Waste Management1,137
Wirral24
Wolverhampton53

County Councils

Cambridgeshire240
Cornwall40
Cheshire20
Cumbria105
Devon240
Durham50
Hampshire517
Hereford and Worcester11
Hertfordshire20
Leicestershire106
Lincolnshire175
Northumberland7
North Yorkshire76·5
Nottinghamshire175
Oxfordshire150
Somerset78·5
Suffolk48
Wiltshire20

District Councils

Adur40
Allerdale75
Alnwick33
Amber Valley20
Bassetlaw8
Bath20·4
Beverley20
Blaby40
Bournemouth29
Brighton60

Authority

Allocation

£'000

Bristol248·75
Broxbourne105
Browtowe77
Burnley45
Carlisle20
Chelmsford20
Cheltenham60
Cherwell15
Chester200
Chesterfield28
Chiltern50
Copeland48
Craven50
Darlington6
Derby70
Easington7·8
East Dorset15
East Hertfordshire42
Eden13
Ellesmere Port and Neston10
Gedling13
Great Grimsby70
Guildford60
Harborough30
Harlow17
Hartlepool150
Hastings50
Havant17·5
Hinckley and Bosworth20
Hull175
Hyndburn30
Kerrier125
Lancaster20
Lanbaugh on Tees64
Leicester90
Melton40
Mid Bedfordshire35
Mid Suffolk60·5
Middlesborough23
Milton Keynes1,450
Newark and Sherwood50
North Dorset25
North Hertfordshire12
Norwich20
Nottingham71·8
Nuneaton and Bedworth37
Oswestry65
Oxford205
Pendle15
Peterborough12·35
Plymouth160
Poole37·5
Portsmouth10
Preston10
Reading15
Ribble Valley7
Rochester upon Medway145
Rother40
Rushmoor70
Scarborough25
Selby30
Shrewsbury and Atcham50
South Derbyshire50
South Herefordshire20
South Lakeland28·75
South Norfolk50
South Northamptonshire75
South Somerset100
St. Albans70
St. Edmundsbury26·5
Stockton on Tees96·5
Surrey Heath42
Tendring4
Test Valley91·5
Tewkesbury30
Vale of White Horse20
Watford30

Authority

Allocation

£'000

Waverley30
Wealdon100
Welwyn Hatfield40
West Devon75
West Dorset20
West Wiltshire116
Winchester26
Woking33·7
Wokingham40
Woodspring10
Wrekin90
Wychavon15
Wycombe20