Clause 17 - Strategy for England

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 8th April 2003.

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Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Minister (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Environment) 5:00 pm, 8th April 2003

Of course I do; I am absolutely and totally at one with the hon. Gentleman. I have done everything possible to set ambitious but achievable targets for recycling. I shall not make a political point—perhaps I will—by saying that we inherited a recycling figure of 6 per cent. The figure is now 13 per cent.—[Interruption.] The hon.

Gentleman is too sensitive. We aim to get to 17 per cent. nationally in 2003–04, and to 25 per cent. by 2005–06—those are really stretching targets, and we have provided the money to strive for them. They are powerful drivers.

I do not want to get involved in a debate on incineration, but one of the guidelines that I laid down in September 2000 was that there should be no approval for proposals for incineration plants that pre-empted or discouraged the maximum performance of recycling. There may be cases in which incineration could be the best practical environmental option, and we shall come to that later. However, I am determined to drive the optimal, if not maximum, increase in recovery, reuse, recycling and composting, in addition to waste minimisation. That is the heart of the strategy.

We discussed in another context provisions similar to the other two subsections. I agree that it is important to give as many householders as possible the opportunity to participate in recycling. That secures good participation rates, especially for those who do not have access to a car or who are elderly or disabled. It also secures a clean and regular source of recyclate for the market. However, we want to look at these issues in the round.

In some areas, collection will not be appropriate to the housing type, and dense ''bring'' sites would be better. Which recyclate should be collected—dry or compostable—depends on what market can be secured for the product. I hope that that is agreed. We are requiring output, in terms of reduction in landfill, and in recycling and composting targets, rather than process, in terms of collection. We agree that that will mean a substantial roll-out of doorstep collection, but that is not an aim in itself. We shall return to that subject in a private Member's Bill. The hon. Member for Lewes should allow the Government the opportunity to pursue what I said on Second Reading rather than threatening me with the possible consequences.

Amendment No. 58 would add ''waste minimisation'' and ''reuse of waste products'' to the list of measures to be included in a landfill strategy. The amendment is unnecessary because the national waste strategy is already required to set out policies to encourage the reduction or prevention of waste production. That is the key point; it is already there and we are committed to it. If we fail to deliver, we can be held to account because we have given a very public commitment. The landfill strategy then deals with how to divert waste from landfill once it has arisen.

I agree with what the hon. Member for Leominster seeks to achieve, but the outputs are already covered in ''Waste Strategy 2000''. The White Paper, like Banquo's ghost, hovers over us all even if it receives little mention. I hear what hon. Members have said. I say, not plaintively, but vigorously and robustly, that I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn on the basis of the reassurances that I have given.