Why has government “stepped away” from waste? MPs ask

MPs have questioned why the Government’s environment department is taking an arms-length approach to waste. They also raised fears the 2020 EU target of 50% household recycling will not be […]

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By Vicky Ellis

MPs have questioned why the Government’s environment department is taking an arms-length approach to waste.

They also raised fears the 2020 EU target of 50% household recycling will not be met in England

MPs on Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said the concern was prompted by Defra’s decision to step back from areas of waste management.

Launching a report on Waste Management in England, the committee’s chair Anne McIntosh who is MP for Thirsk and Malton said: “Defra ‘stepped back’ from waste management at a time when we need both a more ambitious approach to waste management and stronger Government leadership to drive up static recycling rates in England and make better use of energy recovery options such as local heating for homes.”

She added: “Ministers must now show that waste policy remains an important priority.”

The department said it will respond to the report “in due course”. 

A DEFRA spokesperson said: “We all have a responsibility to use our resources more carefully and reduce waste. The Government continues to support this by providing a robust legal framework to help enforcement agencies and industry take action, securing an additional £5m to tackle waste crime and helping consumers save £1.5 billion worth of food since 2007.”

MPs also had a close eye on energy-from-waste plants, calling on Government to make sure only “genuinely residual waste” is sent to these.

Miss McIntosh said: “Too much food waste is still sent to landfill but separate food waste collections can be disproportionately expensive and difficult to implement in practice. The Government must find practical ways to divert more food waste out of the residual stream but in ways that suit local circumstances.”

The “frequent occurrence” of fires at waste management sites should also be “curbed”, said the MPs.