Clause 17 - Strategy for England

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 8th April 2003.

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Photo of Mr Jonathan Sayeed Mr Jonathan Sayeed Conservative, Mid Bedfordshire 4:15 pm, 8th April 2003

I offer my hon. Friend my support. The amendments require a much broader and more comprehensive waste strategy than that outlined in the Bill. I also urge that similar requirements be placed on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through equivalent amendments to clauses 18, 19 and 20. It is crucial that the Bill, in persuading councils to turn away from landfill, does not drive them towards incineration rather than encouraging them towards minimisation, reuse and recycling.

Although I accept that the Minister often talks about and believes in the waste hierarchy, there is nothing in the Bill that promotes recycling over and above the burning of waste. The amendments would add to the duty to produce a strategy for reducing biodegradable waste, duties to put into effect waste minimisation and to provide all homes with doorstep recycling and composting. The duty for doorstep recycling is particularly important. It encourages higher participation and results in higher quality materials that are less contaminated. It allows all households to do their bit and to become part of a waste-minimising, waste-recycling, greener society.

Relying on bring banks makes it difficult for elderly people, those without cars and those who find it difficult to take things a long distance in order to get them recycled to participate. Doorstep recycling is important because it is more convenient and encourages greater participation. That point was endorsed by the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee in March 2001, when it said:

''It may seem rather obvious but if householders are to recycle their waste, they must be given the opportunity to do so relatively easily. In practice, this means that kerbside collections of recyclable materials are required . . . Kerbside collections are much more convenient for householders than taking separated materials for recycling to 'banks' around the locality. For many years, such 'banks' or 'bring sites' have been the main method of collection . . . but they suffer from many limitations. They require collection, sorting and a journey for the householder, the banks themselves often become full or soiled and this acts as a disincentive to further efforts to recycle. The simplest argument against 'bring sites' being the main future route of collection is a logistical one: while there continues to be a kerbside collection of the 'black bag' of waste materials from every household, it makes sense to try and include the collection of recyclables in that system.''

That report was supported by Government—at least my reading of the Government's response to it was that they supported the proposition. My question is, therefore, why is it not included in the Bill? We clearly need a degree of flexibility for local authorities in different areas with different circumstances. In some densely populated urban areas, bring banks may be more feasible. I think in particular of those in high-rise flats, although it is a problem that has been overcome in places like Germany. The Government need to think more imaginatively and more comprehensively about how we deal with waste.

I hope that the Government will not seek to water down the provisions of the private Member's Bill on municipal waste recycling introduced by the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan

Ruddock). It was supported by the Government on Second Reading. The Minister entered a series of caveats about what he could or could not support. It will be regrettable if we end up with piecemeal legislation that does not deal with the fundamental problem. The problem with this Bill at the moment is that there is no disincentive to incineration. There is no encouragement for recycling. As a consequence we may move from one bad way of dealing with waste to another.