New clause 30 - Zero waste strategy

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 10th April 2003.

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Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Minister (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Environment) 3:15 pm, 10th April 2003

I certainly could not give an authoritative answer now. However, my instinct is that household and municipal waste is more biodegradable because it includes more organic material than industrial and commercial waste does. However, I am sure that my officials will be pleased to look into the matter, and I shall return to the Committee with an answer.

Our aims on the landfill of commercial and industrial waste are supported by the increases in the landfill tax announced in the pre-Budget report in November 2002. Provisional data from the Environment Agency, which I do not believe have been made public before now, based on returns from licensed landfill sites suggest that the amount of industrial and commercial waste that goes to landfill may have decreased by about 8 per cent. between 1998–99 and 2000–01. That is an interesting statistic; it is the one area in which there has been a reduction. That is before the increases in landfill tax have started to bite, although there has been a modest escalator of £1 a year between 1999 and 2004. That is interesting because it suggests that industry and commercial offices are beginning to take the management and reduction of waste more seriously. If so, I certainly welcome it.

The waste strategy also introduced the principle of statutory recycling targets, and I have spoken enough about those already. We will consider what further targets may be necessary and how we can support them. We agree that substantial increases in kerbside collection will be needed to support increased recycling. Indeed, we cannot double and treble recycling without a major increase in such collection. The private Member's Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford seeks to make that universal, but my view is that we shall come very close to that simply as a result of the pressure exerted by the targets. I believe that we would need an increase in the level of kerbside collection in the order of 45 to 50 per cent. in parts of local authority areas.