Skip to main content

Recycling

Volume 485: debated on Monday 15 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to increase levels of processing of material awaiting recycling. (240885)

The UK's performance in increasing recycling and reducing reliance on landfill has improved significantly in recent years. We have also seen increased demand for recyclable materials for developing economies, reflected in the unprecedented rise in the value of these materials earlier this year. Demand and prices for some materials have now dropped significantly and we want to ensure that this does not undermine public confidence in the value of recycling, nor lead to unacceptable environmental consequences. Indeed, resource efficiency and waste prevention are even more important during the economic downturn.

On 5 December, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) launched a new advice forum for local authorities to help them deal with lower prices and weaker demand for recyclable materials.

Recovered materials are still a valuable resource and, as with other commodities, prices can rise or fall sharply. Even in the current climate, not all commodities are affected. The price paid for glass, for example, continues to remain stable. Despite weaker markets for some recovered materials, WRAP research shows there is still strong demand for many higher quality recyclable materials. While demand for some lower quality recycled materials (e.g. mixed plastic trays, tubs, and pots) has dropped, there is still capacity and demand for other higher quality recyclables with low levels of contamination (such as plastic bottles and glass).

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of prevailing market conditions within the recycling industry on (a) levels of waste treatment and (b) waste storage capacity. (242704)

The UK’s performance in increasing recycling and reducing reliance on landfill has improved significantly in recent years. We have also seen increased demand for recyclable materials for developing economies, reflected in the unprecedented rise in the value of these materials earlier this year. Demand and prices for some materials have now dropped significantly and we want to ensure that this does not undermine public confidence in the value of recycling, or lead to unacceptable environmental consequences. Indeed, resource efficiency and waste prevention are even more important during the economic downturn.

On 5 December, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) launched a new advice forum for local authorities to help them deal with lower prices and weaker demand for recyclable materials.

Recovered materials are still a valuable resource and, as with other commodities, prices can rise or fall sharply. Even in the current climate, not all commodities are affected. The price paid for glass, for example, continues to remain stable. Despite weaker markets for some recovered materials, WRAP research shows there is still strong demand for many higher quality recyclable materials. While demand for some lower quality recycled materials (e.g. mixed plastic trays, tubs, and pots) has dropped, there is still capacity and demand for other higher quality recyclables with low levels of contamination (such as plastic bottles and glass).

WRAP and the Environment Agency are monitoring current levels of waste storage by local authorities and waste management companies. The situation is dynamic. There has been no marked increase in requests for additional temporary storage of waste. WRAP and the Environment Agency will continue to monitor the situation closely.