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Waste Management

Volume 461: debated on Friday 15 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what incentives his Department has given local authorities to reduce their waste arisings; and what penalties they will face if they fail to do so; (142610)

(2) what measures his Department (a) has introduced and (b) plans to introduce to reduce waste arisings.

[holding answer 14 June 2007]: Action to reduce the amount of waste produced in the first instance is driven by regional and local strategies and supported by nationally funded programmes.

The amount of waste collected from households per head is measured under local authority (LA) best value performance indicator (BVPI) 84a. BVPIs have statutory performance targets and are monitored by the Audit Commission. As a standardised suite of performance indicators, BVPIs help central Government and the public to monitor, analyse and compare the achievements of LAs.

In addition, the Government are providing funding and support to LAs to help them promote and develop more sustainable waste management practices such as recycling, reuse and waste minimisation.

The Waste Minimisation Programme, run by the DEFRA-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), is working to stem the growth of household waste. This is part of a package of measures to enable the UK to meet the requirements of the Landfill Directive and move towards sustainable waste management.

As part of its Waste Minimisation Programme, WRAP is working with 13 major retailers to reduce the amount of waste from supermarkets. This includes looking at ways to redesign packaging, as well as providing support for research and development into waste minimisation. It is also working with LAs to establish greater participation in recycling and home composting. This is achieved by WRAP through a variety of means, for example through LA advice and training; food waste collection trials with selected authorities; funding support for campaigns to boost recycling participation in local areas; and a targeted National Home Composting Programme.

LAs have also received £45 million in 2005-06, £105 million in 2006-07 and £110 million in 2007-08 under the Waste Performance and Efficiency Grant to help them develop new and more efficient ways to deliver waste reduction and increase recycling.

The recently published Waste Strategy 2007 puts forward a range of measures to further reduce waste arisings and build on recent improvements in recycling. A greater focus on waste prevention has been recognised through a new target to reduce the amount of household waste not reused, recycled or composted, from over 22.2 million tonnes in 2000 by 29 per cent. to 15.8 million tonnes in 2010, with an aspiration to reduce it to 12.2 million tonnes in 2020—a reduction of 45 per cent. This is equivalent to a fall of 50 per cent. per person (from 450 kilograms per person in 2000 to 225 kilograms in 2020). The strategy also sets higher national targets for household waste recycling and composting to reach at least 40 per cent. by 2010, 45 per cent. by 2015 and 50 per cent. by 2020.

There are no specific penalties to encourage LAs to reduce their collected waste volumes. The Landfill Allowances Trading Scheme (LATS) places limits on the amount of biodegradable municipal waste that authorities can landfill. LAs that exceed limits are liable to a penalty of £150 per tonne. Minimising municipal waste arisings helps LAs meet their LATS obligations and so avoid incurring penalties.