New clause 30 - Zero waste strategy

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 10th April 2003.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour/Co-operative, Stroud 3:00 pm, 10th April 2003

I am delighted, Mr. Amess, to serve again under your chairmanship. I shall not keep the Committee long.

The problem is how to define zero waste. It is a fine notion, in a similar vein to sustainability; both terms are bandied about by those who call themselves green or environmentalist, but they are difficult to include in legislation. I have no problem with the idea of waste minimisation. If we took it to its ultimate conclusion, we would create no waste—we would not have created the item that created the waste—but I am not sure about the concept of zero waste. In a sense, we can achieve zero waste only if we remove many types of production, because they inevitably have by-products, and some of them could be put to alternative and better uses.

We must also consider whether there is a way of creating an exchange mechanism whereby people who create waste can buy a form of allowance from those who are more environmentally friendly. I am not sure how that would fit in with the Bill. We need to give the matter a great deal more thought before using the term ''zero waste'', or we shall be creating a wish list, and that may undermine and degrade the very important work that we are trying to achieve. The Committee may like to ponder on that. Perhaps the Minister will give us his definition of zero waste.