EU Recycling Targets

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 17th December 2015.

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Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons) 9:30 am, 17th December 2015

What steps her Department is taking to meet EU recycling targets.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Recycling is local authority-led. National Government can work through measures such as the landfill tax and harmonisation of the Waste and Resources Action Programme. We are pleased to say that recycling is now at the highest level ever, up in the region of 44%.

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

It looks as though we are going to miss our household recycling targets, and there is a question mark over the municipal recycling target as well. Is it not time for a proper waste strategy for this country to enable us to meet our requirements?

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I believe we are on track, and the thing that will keep us on track is more harmonisation. One of the problems in England particularly—this is not a problem in Wales or Scotland—is that we have over 300 different types of recycling system, so we are working hard on a voluntary basis with local councils to harmonise that. If we can reduce it to four or five systems, we will drive up recycling rates and reduce costs for councils and ratepayers.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner

On the first anniversary of WRAP’s creation as a charity, will the Minister join me in encouraging people to recycle their Christmas cards and gift wrap? Apparently, we recycle enough card to wrap the Elizabeth Tower 260,000 times.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I confirm my right hon. Friend’s comments. I pay tribute to WRAP, which both sides of the House are proud of and which was an initiative led by the Labour Government. It has done an enormous amount of work on harmonisation and particularly the Courtauld agreement.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

I declare my interest as a member of Kettering borough council. Will the Minister congratulate Kettering borough council on becoming the best performer in the Association for

Public Service Excellence awards for having the best recycling and refuse service in the country, following the introduction of its enhanced blue bin recycling service?

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I pay tribute to Kettering, and I invite Kettering please to join us in a taskforce to communicate that best practice to other councils. There is a great deal we can all learn from Kettering.