To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans her Department has to make waste minimisation and recycling mandatory for the commercial sectors to achieve a reduction in overall commercial waste levels. 
The Department has no plans to make waste minimisation or recycling mandatory for the commercial sectors. However, there are already a number of mechanisms in place that are designed to achieve an overall reduction in commercial waste levels.The Government have set a target to reduce, by 2005–06, the amount of commercial and industrial waste going to landfill to 85 per cent. of 1998 levels. Current estimates suggest that we are on course to meet this target.The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (as amended) set targets for the recovery and recycling of packaging waste and provide incentives to minimise the amount of packaging handled. Between 1999 and 2002, the amount of packaging waste sent to landfill fell from 5.7 to 4.4 million tonnes, although the 2002 figure is still provisional at this stage. The Government will additionally be setting targets for the recovery and recycling of electrical equipment.The Government have entered into a voluntary agreement with the newspaper industry, which has seen recycled content of newspapers increase to well over the target of 60 per cent. last year. The Government are looking to enter into more agreements of this kind.Envirowise, is a Government funded business support programme dedicated to making businesses more resource efficient, saving money by minimising waste. Last year alone, Envirowise helped UK businesses to achieve annual cost savings of over £175 million, with a reduction of 1.6 million tonnes of solid waste. It also funds the Sustainable Technologies Initiative that provides funding for research and development projects aimed at minimising waste at source.Finally, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is helping to create stable and efficient markets for recycled materials and products, and remove the barriers to waste minimisation, re-use and recycling. This should help to make all recycling more commercially viable, including that which is produced by the commercial sector.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what incentives her Department is providing to local authorities to (a) offer effective and sustained educational resources for waste minimisation and recycling and (b) reduce the amount of waste that is exported to rural Bedfordshire; (2) what steps are being taken by her Department to ensure that authorities in London and the South East act responsibly in their waste strategies to
(a) minimise waste at source, (b) rapidly increase recycling and (c) reduce the need for waste to be exported; and if she will make a statement; 
(3) what incentives she will provide to encourage the London and South East waste collection and waste disposal authorities to act in partnership to develop joint waste management strategies to minimise waste and increase recycling; and if she will make a statement. 
The Strategy Unit Report 'Waste Not Want Not' recommended that the Waste Recycling Action Programme (WRAP) take forward a programme of public education and awareness. The Government has accepted this recommendation and WRAP is now in the process of drawing up the detail of the programme. The majority of the resources allocated to the programme will support local authority education schemes.The Government have provided funding to local authorities through the Waste Recycling and Minimisation fund to enable them to increase recycling and waste minimisation in their areas. This includes funding for education and awareness programmesWe have issued guidance to local authorities on the production of Municipal Waste Management Strategies which states that the strategies will need to demonstrate how the authority will meet the objectives and targets set out in Waste Strategy 2000. We have set statutory performance standards (targets) for each local authority to increase their recycling and composting levels. A Strategy should therefore contain:
high level objectives for the service including statutory performance standards; and a time scale for achieving these:
a review of outcomes against previous targets or plans, and factors which have caused divergence;
identification and analysis of available options.
The Strategy should aim for the Best Practicable Environmental Option taking account of the proximity and self-sufficiency principles.
The Mayor of London has an obligation to produce a Municipal Waste Management Strategy for London on which he has to consult interested parties including other authorities. The Strategy should be in line with the Waste Strategy 2000. The Mayor has been given powers of direction to enable implementation of his strategy.
The Waste and Emissions Trading (WET) Bill will set landfill trading allowances for each local authority to limit the amount of waste that they can send to landfill. The Government have also announced that the WET Bill will be amended to require authorities in two tier areas (with some exceptions) to prepare a joint municipal Waste Strategy thus affording more opportunity for disposal and collection district authorities to work together.
All of these factors together should help reduce the amount of waste that is exported to rural Bedfordshire.