New clause 30 - Zero waste strategy

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 10th April 2003.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes 4:00 pm, 10th April 2003

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who makes her point well and emphasises why aspirational targets are appropriate. No one has mentioned closed-link technology, except in passing, and I would like to see the Government pushing that, to ensure that industry creates no waste in the first place. If we could minimise the waste stream and minimise industry's costs, we would give this country a competitive edge. As we progress further into this century, environmental progress and environmental technology will be key drivers for the economy. We must be at the forefront of that. There are advantages all ways around from aspiring to a target of zero waste.

The Minister rightly referred to the need to decouple economic growth concepts from waste production. It is important that we start thinking along those lines in a way that we have not done hitherto.

The Minister was also right to mention local authorities, because they can do a lot to recycle litter. I would not wish to adopt the laissez-faire attitude of new Labour or the Stalinist attitude of the Conservative party with regard to dictating to local government. There is a middle way between the two. I hope that if the Minister has not done so, he will think about issuing guidance to local authorities, not in a prescriptive way, but setting out the facts and figures, the powers that they already have and those that the Government are now giving them through other legislation. There is value in telling local authorities what they can do because they do not always know.