New clause 30 - Zero waste strategy

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 10th April 2003.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 2:30 pm, 10th April 2003

No, I would never want to be described as a dog, and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) is a real man. Perhaps he is a trifle less rugged than my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker), but a man none the less. I have no doubt that the hard core that remains will do its best and that the others will be recovered, reused and recycled.

These are important matters, and the grouping of the amendments allows for a wide-ranging debate. We have extensively discussed some of the issues already, so I promise not to give a Periclean oration on this particular group. None the less, we must deal with some important matters, and the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) spoke cogently about some of them.

First, I want to follow through the discussion that we had before lunch about a change of culture on the part of the authorities responsible for waste disposal. By implication, we need an important change of culture on the part of those responsible for waste collection, too. We must therefore change the culture as regards not only landfill and incineration—we talked about those earlier, so I shall not go over that ground—but collection. It is important to re-emphasise that the mode of collection will have a significant impact on the public's habits. If one makes it convenient and straightforward, and explains why one has adopted it, one will facilitate a practical change in public culture. One will also build confidence in the idea that what is being done is in

the wider interest—that is, part of a bigger picture. At the moment, people feel that much of their effort is wasted when they attempt to recycle. That view is not entirely correct, but recycled material is not dealt with as well as it might be. It is certainly difficult to get the right product to the right place when it comes to separating materials, and the waste collection authorities must play a key part in that respect. There must be a change of culture on their part.

There is a third change of culture—a change of public culture. In uncharacteristically harsh comments earlier, the Minister talked about the public's habits in respect of litter and waste. I do not know whether he remembers that—perhaps he does not remember his harsh moments.