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As the Governnment prepare to unveil the findings of their Review into Waste, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Defra, Lord Henley, talks exclusive to Editor, Scott Buckler, about how the review will encourage recycling and putting a stop to penalising householders for overfilling their bins

Lord Henley, what significant findings have come from the waste review?

The aims for the review was to reduce the amount of waste to landfill, re-use and recycle and gain energy from waste. This review will focus on using all our resources more sustainably to deliver environmental benefits and economic benefits whilst also making sure that householders have the best possible services. We (Government) believe that most people want to reduce waste and recycle where they can, and also gain energy from waste. There is no one fit solution to reducing waste, however, the review will highlight a number of key areas which help focus on long- term change. We want to make it easier for people to recycle and focus on the prevention of waste which means more voluntary agreements with businesses and to provide help to SME’s to help them reduce waste. We will be concentrating on delivering appropriate services for individual residents in order to gain the best service. In terms of penalties, we want to cut down on fly tipping, but we believe it is wrong for a householder to be penalised for overfilling a bin. We want to go for proportionality.

How will the Review help the UK become better at reducing waste to landfill?

We are not one of the best, however, we have made enormous strides forward over the last decade and reduced waste to landfill by 45%. We believe it is important to make sure we encourage people to reduce waste and not overburden them. We want to make it easier to recycle and reduce waste. It is a matter of carrot rather than stick and incentivising individuals to recycle and be more environmentally conscious. An example would be my district council of Carlisle which provides services to some of the parish councils which then enables residents to do the right thing and recycle. We believe it is for the local authorities to decide what is appropriate and what will be most effective in terms of recycling facilities and whether they should reward individuals or communities through incentives.

How will the Review address Commercial waste and Recycling?

We are looking at responsibility deals which encourage producers to reduce less waste, packaging is a good example of where this can be most effective. Through responsibility deals we will encourage recycling. These deals will help businesses do the right thing in terms of tackling their own waste and helping them to communicate better with their customers to encourage waste reduction. By working with businesses through such deals we will be able to deliver change at a low cost for businesses which will also encourage innovation.

What is the economic value for recycling waste?

We conducted research in March of this year which identified potential low-cost savings to businesses of around £22 and a half billion. A great many companies will realise that reducing waste and recycling can be beneficial to their bottom line costs. Reducing waste can save money for businesses this is a fact. Alongside the Review we will be publishing a paper on the economics of waste and waste policies.

How does the Big Society ethos work alongside with Recycling?

There are many organisations we are working in partnership with who are already doing fantastic work. For example we work alongside organisations such as Keep Britain Tidy who are doing some fantastic work to educate people on recycling and reducing waste. We also recognise that there are many individuals, communities and groups which are dealing with waste and recycling. Charity shops do a great amount of work to re-use waste and raise funds to support charities and communities. Fare Share also spring to mind, they do a great amount of work to redistribute food and meals which would be sent via supermarkets to landfill. They provide a service which helps those less fortunate then ourselves. So, there is a great deal happening, but we know there is much more that can be done. During the time I spent travelling the country and listening to individuals, organisations, and authorities views on waste I was very encouraged by what is already happening. In particular the places where we are seeing not only environmental benefits but social benefits too.

How will the Review address problems around weekly bin collections?

It is a matter for each local authority to decide what is best for their area. I have seen a large number of different bin collections conducted across the country. In my local authority of Carlisle they changed to one week residual waste and the other to recycling, this improved their recycling significantly. If fortnightly collections are doing right then they can be just as beneficial as weekly, however, this remains the decision of the local authorities and it would not be right for central government to dictate on when bin collections should be made.

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Written by Lord Henley   
Friday, 15 July 2011 10:35
Last Updated on Friday, 15 July 2011 10:35


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