Collect and Recycle

Defra waste prevention paper draws negative response from recycling industry

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The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) launch of its consultation on its Waste Prevention Programme has already prompted organisations in the UK recycling industry to urge a more hands-on role from government after a first reading, Collect and Recycle ( reports.

Publication by the government of its Waste Prevention Programme needs to take place by January 2014 under the revised EU Waste Framework Directive. The consultation suggests that £17 billion could be saved by UK businesses as a result of “simple measures” to reduce waste production, with long-term investment in the reduction of waste – with particular regard to design and production techniques – also advocated.

However, many of the major players in waste recycling have given a negative response to the consultation document, which was described as a “missed opportunity” by both the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and Resource Association. The Environmental Services Association (ESA), however, declared that all was “still to play for”.

CIWM chief executive Steve Lee cited “two fundamental levels” on which the plan “failed”, stating that there was insufficient focus on circular economies, as well as a lack of data or concrete objectives for the measurement of “genuine prevention”.

Lee expressed disappointment that after “early discussions on this plan explored ambitious concepts including the role of green taxation, product policy and standards, Producer Responsibility, and resource security”, such “important issues and mechanisms” had been “left by the wayside.” He said that more responsibility needed to be accepted by a government that had “not grasped the scale and urgency of this challenge.”

Agreement with the CIWM’s concerns was forthcoming from chief executive of the Resource Association, Ray Georgeson, who said that both a set of measurable objectives and a clear data collection plan were required. He added that with recycling rates “starting to flatline … all the wrong signals to those willing to invest in what is an industry for the future” were being sent out by the “bare minimum approach” taken by the government to waste targets and to complying with the Directive.

As aforementioned, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) struck a more optimistic note, as only a consultation document, as opposed to a draft plan, had thus far been published by Defra. Roy Hathaway, ESA policy advisor, backed Defra’s statement that the government did not have the sole or main responsibility for waste prevention actions, as contributions to cutting back waste should be made by everyone in society.

However, he said that government still had a “very important” role to play, and that there was a need for Defra to “up its game considerably to turn this consultation paper into a credible waste prevention programme for England by December.”

Organisations interested in such services as cardboard and WEEE disposal are urged to get in touch with Collect and Recycle ( today for the most efficient, compliant and economical means of disposing of their business waste in the most environmentally friendly manner.

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